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short, to afford him constantly the power of turning himself from his fallacies to doctrines nearer the truth, from his evil loves to the reception of affections nearer to heavenly goodness.
It was this everlasting effort of the divine love, this immutable principle of the divine economy, that caused the Lord to assume the humanity in this our world, and by overcoming the spirits of darkness, who were holding us in bondage, and by rendering his humanity divine, to give unto man the power of rising towards heaven, and to bring down heaven itself within his reach; for now this power of turning to the Lord of becoming regenerated, is communicated from the glorified humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Redeemer and Saviour, besides whom there is no God. Therefore he exhorts us to come unto him for salvation. “Whosoever cometh unto me, (he saith,) I will in no wise cast out." To him, therefore, let us come, and not to any imaginary God distinct from him, for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. His own words are, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last—the Almighty.” Let us, then, come immediately unto Him, for he alone is the way, the truth, and the life, and coming unto him, our needs shall be supplied.
But, let us see for what purpose we come to him,—what are the things we think we need ? for nothing is more possible than that such weak and erring creatures as we are, should mistake our needs, and apply for what would not improve our condition, or ask for what divine love and wisdom could not bestow. What are the things we are anxious to obtain of the Lord, and that bow us into the attitude of prayer and earnest supplication? Is the one thing we earnestly desire, and which gives all the urgency to our cries, that God would remove his anger from us, and forego his vengeance upon us? Are we alarmed at the wrath and fury against us, because of our sins, which we imagine we can read in his countenance. O fools that we are, and slow of heart to believe what he has so clearly revealed of himself in his Holy Word! Fury is not in him-he desireth not the death of any sinner-he delights in mercy-he is ever ready to forgive-he dealeth with us not according to our sins, neither rewardeth us after our iniquities-- he is full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy. If the wicked man turn unto him, he shall surely livehis mercy endureth for ever. Are not these the positive declarations of his own Word? What mean we, then, by assailing the throne of grace with our cries and our shouting for his mercy ?
Are we determined not to be satisfied with the words of his own mouth? will we have some other testimony--some other evidence of our safety from every thing like divine wrath and indignation? Shall we, in the arrogance of our cowardly and unbelieving fears, impetuously insist upon receiving some secret witness, some inward whispering to our souls of our individual safety? Shall we, from such weakness, act the madman before the God of heaven, and tell him, notwithstanding he has revealed the universality of bis forgiveness and mercy, that we will have from him such special assurance of our individual safety from his wrath ? If this is the character of our earnestness, what wonder that we become the dupes of infernal spirits, who, taking advantage of our folly, gratify our selfishness and pride by pretending to be the Spirit of God, and in that assumed character whispering to our souls a false peace, leading us by their wily arts to believe ourselves the faFourites of heaven, and the peculiar subjects of the divine regard ; and flattering us with notions of our safety for another world, in consequence of this imaginary forgiveness of our sins : thus withdrawing us from the important truth, that salvation consists in being saved, not from wrath or punishment, but, from our sins theinselves. It is not the readiness of God to forgive our sins, that is sufficient to secure our salvation,-it is not the absence of wrath or anger in the mind of God towards us, that ensures to us the happiness of heaven. Redemption was not accomplished for inducing God to pardon and forgive his creatures; it was not to reconcile God to the world, for the unchanging love of Jehovah rendered this unnecessary; but it was to reconcile the world unto himself. This was necessary, because the world had become enemies to God, and it was essential that this enmity should be destroyed. What if we could enter heaven with the utmost assurance of the divine complacency; what could we do there, if we still retained the evil lusts and concupiscences of fallen nature ? how could we associate with pure and holy beings, if our affections were impure? what delight could we take in the heavenly exercises of love and charity, if our own hearts were filled with selfish desires ? how could we breathe the atmosphere of angels, if the organs of our spiritual respiration were of an infernal character? Heaven, under such circumstances, could be no heaven to us. The mercy of the Lord would give us no exultation ; his pardon would not seal our bliss; we should be perplexed and tormented; our state would be like that of a fish placed with quadrupeds on the land; we should desire and seek a grosser element,, more congenial to the depraved state of our life.
Redemption and salvation were not to effect any change in the mind of God towards man, but solely for the effecting in man of that change which was necessary for his receiving from God what his unchangeable goodness ever desires to communicate. Our great concern, therefore, should be, to become the subjects of that change which will fit us for God and heaven, and not of one which should chiefly indicate that God is changed towards us. And this change in ourselves, this regeneration, is not to be accomplished by the earnest entreaties of mistaken devotion, or the importunate ravings of enthusiasm, but it is to be effected by a diligent attention to the instructions of divine truth, and a persevering submission of ourselves to its dictates. This is the earnestness which the Lord desires us to evince—this is the asking that shall have, the seeking that shall find, and the knocking unto which the gate of heaven shall be opened ; for man can only be regenerated by yielding obedience to the divine commands. He must, therefore, look to the Lord Jesus Christ for the influences of his spirit, without which he can do nothing good, and must expect to receive thereof, only in proportion as he, by striving to fulfil his commands, puts himself into the attitude for receiving it. The very essential character of the process of regeneration, as that which is to fit us for entering the kingdom of heaven, renders it necessary that our ideas respecting it should be consistent with divine truth.
We have in this discourse done little more than considered the subject in a negative point of view. Our attention has thus been occupied, because of the conviction, that the more effectually error is cleared away from the mind, the more fully and perfectly can truth be received.
As time will not allow us to pursue the subject further at present, I shall, by divine permission, resume it on a future occasion, for the purpose of considering of what the great work of regeneration truly consists.
May what we have attended to, serve to prepare us for clearly understanding the nature of the important process, and may we be induced earnestly to seek to be the subjects of that regeneration, that shall prepare us for admission into the heavenly kingdom, where goodness, truth, and peace, for ever reign!
ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES CONNECTED WITH THE
RESURRECTION OF THE LORD.
John xx. 11, 12. “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre, weeping: and as she
wept she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white, sitting, the one at the head and the other
at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain," Although the resurrection of our Lord, and all the circumstances connected with it, took place as they are recorded, yet each involves a meaning distinct from that which is expressed in the letter. As the blessed consequences of that stupendous erent are unlimited in their extent, and will be eternal in their duration, so the arcana of wisdom which it involves are unfathomable; and even angels, who desire to look, and do look, into them, will ever be discovering new wonders and new beauties.
The spiritual meaning of the Lord's resurrection does not merely show what that event implied and effected in the church, and the states of its members at the time; it more particularly reveals what it implies and will effect, in connection with his second advent, and with human regeneration. The treatment of the Lord, even to his crucifixion by the Jewish nation, represented the treatment and rejection of the Word (for he was the Word) by the Jewish Church : and his resurrection denoted the raising of the Word out of the death of the perverted letter, into the life and glory of the spirit, which spirit, like the vesture without seam, woven throughout, was preserved entire; though the garment of the letter had been divided, and thus dissipated and destroyed. But the church established by our Lord has also become corrupt, and has crucified the Lord afresh; and in respect to the present professing religious world, the Divine Redeemer is, in the prophetic language of the book of Revelation, “a Lamb as it were slain.” As the Lord has been crucified afresh, so has he also risen afresh, and, in relation to the church, risen to greater glory than when he emerged from the tomb; though in his second resurrection he is less perceptible to the carnal eye, and less winning to the carnal mind, than at his first. In a more interior sense, the Lord's resurrection implies, that he rises, yea, is every moment rising, in the hearts of the regenerate.
As the resurrection itself of our Lord is thus significative, so are the various things and circumstances which are recorded in connection with it. The angels who were seen in the sepulchre, and who first announced to his devoted female followers their Lord's self-deliverance from death, is the subject intended for our present consideration; every particular that is recorded of them has an important meaning, and it will, therefore, be useful to take a minute view of the circumstances.
In the first place, then, it appears necessary to know what is signified by the sepulchre in which they were seated.
A sepulchre, when mentioned of the good, signifies resurrection; the reason is, that burial to the body, is resurrection to the spirit. When men lay the body in the dust, angels welcome the emancipated soul into heaven. It was in consequence of this signification of sepulchre and burial, that in ancient times they were so desirous of being buried in Canaan; for Canaan represented heaven, and burial in Canaan represented resurrection into heaven. The sepulchre of the Lord, therefore, must signify resurrection in an eminent sense; and as the sepulchre signifies resurrection, it signifies, also, that from which a knowledge of resurrection is obtained ; that from which mortals are instructed respecting the resurrection and the life, as the women were by the angels in the sepulchre; and that is—the Holy Word. But the Lord's sepulchre seems to represent the Word as to a specific part of its contents—namely, as far as it treats of the Lord's humiliation. Hence the angels said, “ He is not here, he is risen:" he is no longer in that state of humiliation to which he descended, he is divine, even as to his humanity: God over all. Yet the angels invited the disciples to come and see the place where the Lord lay: and so his disciples are still invited to behold and contemplate that state of suffering and humiliation to which the Lord for their sakes submitted; and such a contemplation is calculated to make them wonder and adore; while it shews us through what the disciple himself has to pass, in following the Lord in the regeneration.
It will be difficult, perhaps, for some to believe, that the Lord's sepulchre has so exalted a signification, or that it has even a favorable meaning; but there are further considerations, which may have