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DEATH SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.
1 Cor. xv. 54. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that
is written, Death is swallowed up in vica
tory! N EATH, simply considered, is no more
than a privative idea, fignifying a cesfation of life ; or, that what was once living, lives no longer. But it has been the general, perhaps, the universal custom of mankind, to personify it. Imagination gives death a formidable appearance, arms it with a dart, sting or scythe, and represents it as an active, inexorable and invincible reality. In this view death is a great devourer ; with his iron tongue, he calls for thousands at a
meal. He has already swallowed up all the preceding generations of men ; all who are now living are marked as his inevitable prey ; he is still unsatisfied, and will go on devouring till the Lord shall come. Then this destroyer shall be destroyed; he shall swallow no more, but be swallowed up himself, in victory. Thus the scripture accommodates itself, to the language and apprehenfions of mortals. Farther the metaphorical usage of the word, swallow, ftill enlarges and aggrandizes the idea. Thus the earth is faid to have opened her mouth, and swallowed up Korah and his accomplices *. And thus a pebble, a mill-stone, or a mountain, if cast into the ocean, would be swallowed up, irrecoverably lost and gone, as though they had never been f. Such shall be the triumphant victory of MESSIAH, in the great day of the consummation of all things. Death, in its cause, and in its effects, shall be utterly destroyed. Man was created upright, and lived in a paradise, till, by fin, he brought death into the world. From that time, death has reigned by fin, and evils abound. But MESSIAH came to make an
* Numb. xvi. 32. † Rev. xviii, 21.
end of fin, to destroy death, and him that hath the power of it, to repair every disorder, and to remove every misery. And he will so fully, so gloriously, accomplish his great undertaking, in the final issue, that every thing contrary to holiness and happiness, shall be swallowed up, and buried, beyond the possibility of a return, as a stone that is funk in the depths of the sea. Thus where fin has abounded, grace will much more abound.
This victory, however, being the Redeemer's work, and the fruit of his mediation, the scripture teaches us to restrain the benefits of it, to the subjects of his church and kingdom. In Adam all die. A depraved nature, guilt, sorrow and death, extend to all his posterity. The All, who in Chrift shall be made alive, are those, who, by faith in him, are delivered from the sting of death, which is fin, and are made partakers of a new nature. There is a second death, which, though it shall not hurt the believers in Jefus *, will finally swallow up the impenitent and ungodly. We live in an age, when there is, if I may so speak, a resurrection of * Rev. ii. 11.
many old and exploded errors, which, though they have been often refuted and forgotten, are admired and embraced, by fome persons, as new and wonderful discoveries. Of this stamp, is the conceit of a universal reititution to a state of happiness, of all intelligent creatures, whether angels or men, who have rebelled againit the will and government of God. This sentiment contradicts the current doctrine of scripture, which afferts the everlasting misery of the finally im. penitent, in as strong terms, in the very same terms, as the eternal happiness of the righteous, and sometimes in the very fame verse * Nor can it possibly be true, if our Lord spake the truth concerning Judas, when he said, It had been good for that man if be bad never been born t. If I could consider this notion, as harmless though useless, and no worse than many mistakes, which men of upright minds have made, through inattention and weakness of judgment, I should not have mentioned it. But I judge it to be little less pernicious and poisonous, than false. It directly tends to abate that sense of the evil of fin, of the inflexible justice of God, * Matt. xxv. 46. + Matt. xxvi. 24.
and the truth of his threatenings, which is but too weak in the best of men. Let us abide by the plain declarations of his word, which assures us, that there remaineth no other facrifice for fin *, no future relief against it, for those who now refuse the gospel; and that they who cordially receive it, shall be saved with an everlasting falvation, and fhall one day fing, Death is fwallowed up in victory.
I would further observe, that many prophecies have a gradual and increasing accomplishment, and may be applied to several periods; though their full completion will only be at the resurrection and last judgment. This paffage, as it stands in the prophecy of Isaiah t, from whence the apostle quotes it, appears to have a reference, to the comparatively brighter light and glory of the gospel state, beyond what was enjoyed by the church, under the Levitical dispensation; and especially to the privileges of those happy days, when the fulness of the Gentiles and the remnant of Israel shall be brought in, and the kingdoms of the world, Mall become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Chrift. * Heb. x, 26, 27. + Ifa. xxv. 8.