« PreviousContinue »
304 DEATH SWALLOWED UP
Let us endeavour to realize the great scene
I. They were once dead in law. They
* Rev. vii. 13.
wisdom, righteousness, fantification and redemption *. They received grace to believe in this Saviour, and now they are delivered from condemnation. They are accepted in the Beloved. They are considered as one with him, and interested in all that he did, and in all that he suffered. Now they are the children of God, and heirs of his kingdom. Though they were afar off, they are brought nigh, admitted into a nearer relation, than the holy angels, to him who litteth upon the throne. For he took upon him, and still is pleased to wear, not the nature of angels, but the human nature. Their former guilt is cancelled, blotted out, and swallowed up. All their fins are covered, sunk in his precious blood, as in a deep sea, so that even if fought for, they can no more be found. That they have sinned, will always be a truth; and probably they will never lose a consciousness of what they were by nature and practice, while in this world. But this, so far from abating their joy, will heighten their gratitude and praise. to him who loved them, and washed them from their fins, in his own blood t. Their happiness
* 1 Cor. i. 30. + Rev. i. 5. VOL. II.
principally consists, in a perception of his love to them, and in their returns of grateful love to him. And they love bim much, because, for his fake, much has been forgiven them *.
II. Once they were dead in fin. They were destitute of the knowledge and love of God. They were foolish, deceived, and difobedient, enslaved to divers lusts t, to inordinate, sensual, unsatisfying pleasures. They lived in malice and envy, they were bateful, and they hated one another. In a word, they were dead while they lived I. But by the power of grace, they were awakened and raised from this death, and made partakers of a new, a spiritual and divine life. Yet the principle of fin and death. still remained in them; and their life upon earth, though a life of faith in the Son of God, was a state of continual warfare. They had many a conflict, and were often greatly distressed. They fowed in tears, to the end of their pilgrimage, but now they reap in joy ll. This death is also fwallowed up in viétory. They are now entirely and for ever freed, from every
* Luke vii. 47. + Titus iii. 3. I Tim. v. 6. | Pl. cxxvi. 5. 8
clog, defect and defilement. By beholding their Lord, as he is, in all his glory and love, without any interposing veil or cloud, they are made like him, and to the utmost measure of their capacity, conformed to his image. Now, they are absolutely spotless and impeccable. For though mutability, seems no less essential to a creature than dependance, yet they cannot change, because their Lord is unchangeable, for their life is bidden with Christ in God *. They cannot fall from their holiness or happiness, because he has engaged to uphold and maintain them, by his almighty power.
III. One branch of the death due to sin, is the tyranny and power of Satan. For a time he ruled in their hearts, as in his own strong hold; and while they were blinded by his influence, they were little affected with their bondage, Hard as his service was, they did not often complain of it. They were led by him according to his will, for the most part without resistance; or, if they attempted to resist, they found it was in vain. But in his own hour, their Lord, who had bought them, dispoffeffed their strong enemy, and claimed
* Col. iii. 3. X 2
their hearts for himself. Yet after they were thus set free from his ruling power, this adversary was always plotting and fighting against them. How much have some of them suffered from his subtle wiles, and his fiery darts ! from his rage as a roaring lion, from his cunning as a serpent lying in their path, and from his attempts to deceive them under the semblance of an angel of light * ! But now they are placed out of his reach. Death and Satan are swallowed up. The victory is complete. The wicked one shall never have access to touch, or disturb them, any more. Now he is shut up in his own place, and the door sealed, no more to open. While he was permitted to vex and worry them, he acted under a limited commiffion which he could not exceed; all was directed and overuled, by the wisdom and love of their Lord, for their advantage. Such exercises were necessary then, to discover to them more of the weakness and vileness of their own hearts, to make them more sensible of their dependance upon their Saviour, and to afford them affecting proofs of his power and care engaged in their behalf. But they are necessary, no * 2 Cor. xi. 14.