Page images
PDF
EPUB

fice for sin, in favour of those who reject the gospel. For to be disowned of God in the great day, to be separated from his favourable presence, and conscious of his endlefs displeasure ; to be abandoned to the unrestrained rage of finful dispositions, and hopeless despair ; to be incessantly tormented by the stings of a remorseful conscience must be, upon the principles of scripture, the unavoidable consequences of being cut off by death, in an unhumbled, unpardoned, unfanctified state.

II. But, blessed be God, the gospel reveals a relief and remedy, fully adapted to the complicated misery in which fin has involved us. As by man came death, by man also came the resurrection from the dead. MESSIAH has made an end of sin, and destroyed the power of death. They who believe in him, though they were dead shall live *. For he is the Resurrection of the dead, and the Life of the living.

I. He raises the foul from the death of sin, unto a life of righteousness. By his blood he procures a right and liberty, and by his Spirit he communicates a power, that :. * John xi. 25.

those

those who were afar off, may draw nigh to God. Thus, even at present, believers are said to be rifen with bim*. Their spiritual life is renewed, and their happiness is already commenced, though it be as yet subject to abatements.

1. Though when they are made partakers of his grace, and thereby delivered from the condemning power of the law, sin has no longer dominion over them, as formerly ; yet it still wars and strives within them, and their life is a state of continual warfare: They now approve the law of God, as boly, just and good, and delight in it after the inward man ut, yet they are renewed but in part. They feel a law in their members warring against the law of their minds. They cannot do the things that they would, nor as they would; for when they would do good, evil is present with them. They are conscious of a defect, and a defilement, attending their best services. Their attainments are unspeakably short of the desires, which, love to the Redeemer has raised in their hearts. They are ashamed, and sometimes almost discouraged. They adopt the apos* Col. iii. 1. † Rom. vii. 12-19. T2

tle's

tle's language, Oh wretched man that I am, who fall deliver me from the body of this death. But with him they can likewise say, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. They know he is on their fide, and expect that he will at lait make them more than conquerors; yet, while the conflict lafts, they have much to suffer, and much to lament.

2. They are subject, like other people, to the various calamities and distresses incident to this state of mortality; and they have, more or less, troubles peculiar to themselves, arising from the nature of their profession and conduct (if they are faithful to their Lord) while they live in a world that lieth in wickedness. But the curse and sting is taken out of their afflictions, and they are so moderated and sanctified, by the wisdom and grace of him whom they serve, that in the event, they work for their good. But though they yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness *, in themselves, and at the time, they are not joyous but grievous. . 3. They are still subject to the stroke of death; the separation of soul and body. But this death has lost its sting, as to them. * Heb, xii. 11.

And

And therefore they are said, not to die, but to sleep in Jesus. Death is not their enemy but their friend. To them, instead of being an evil, it proves a deliverance from all evil, and an entrance into everlasting life.

2. That new life to which they are raised, is surely connected with life eternal, the life of grace, with the life of glory. For Christ liveth in them, and being united to him by faith, they shall live while he liveth. They only shut their eyes upon the pains and forrows of this world, to open them immediately in his presence, and so they shall be for ever with the Lord. How wonderful and happy is the transition ! From disease and anguish, from weeping friends, and often from a state of indigence and obscurity, in which they have no friends to compassionate them, they remove to a state of glory, honour and immortality, to a mansion in the realms of light, to a feat near the throne of God. In the language of mortals, this ineffable honour and happiness is shadowed out to us, by the emblems of a white robe, a golden harp, a palm-branch, (the token of victory) and a crown, not of oak pr laurel, of gold or diamonds, but a crown

of life. Such fonour have all the faints, Honever afflicted or neglected, defpiled or opprefied while upco earth, foca as their willing spirits take their flight from hence, they shine, like the fun, in the kingdom of their Father. Thus Lazarus, ly, for a time, difealed, neceffitous and fighted at the rich man's gate. Yet he was not without attendants. A guard of angels waited around him, and when he died conveyed his spirit into Abraham's bofon * The Jews thought very highly of Abraham, the father of their nation, the father of the faithful. Our Lord therefore teaches us by this representation, that the beggar Lazarus, was not only happy after death, but highly exalted by him, who seeth not as man seeth, for he was placed in Abraham's bosom, a fituation, which, according to the custom of the Jews, was a mark of peculiar favour, intimacy and distinction. Thus the beloved disciple, was seated in the bosom of our Lord, when he celebrated his last passover with his disciples t.

3. Their dead bodies shall be raised, at the great day, not in their former state of * Luke xvi. 22. + John xiii. 22-25.

weak

« PreviousContinue »