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SERM. strike it into one's heart, than thoroughly and resolvedly to
deny the lusts and practices one has been accustomed to.”
Who then would not despair of ever subduing the corruptions of nature and custom, if the same hand which raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead had not promised to help all such as flee to Him for succour ? So necessary is the knowledge and belief of this truth.
But then it must not be a bare knowledge; nor is it enough to profess (though one should profess it every day) that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God, unless we believe, and are persuaded, that the same power which conquered death and hell will assist us to overcome all our evil and corrupt affections, provided we pray earnestly for His grace, depend upon His love, and use our best endeavours to please Him. Then may we promise ourselves victory over all the corruptions which by nature we are subject to, while we disclaim all self-confidence, and put our whole trust in God, who raiseth the dead.
III. The next thing which offers itself to our consideration, from the certainty of Christ's resurrection, is the certainty of a life to come, and a life of endless happiness to all
such as receive and obey His Gospel. [2 Cor. 5. “We know,” saith the Apostle, “that if our earthly house 1; 4. 16; Rev.14.13.; of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,
a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For which cause we faint not." “Blessed, therefore, are the dead which die in the Lord ;” and blessed are they that are alive, who live unto God, who love Him, and keep His commandments. For all such, our Lord Christ is gone to prepare a place, that where He is, there they may be also; where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor cry
ing, neither shall there be any more pain. (2 Cor.7.1.) Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us
cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, that at last we may be meet partakers of the inheritance of the saints in heaven.
IV. You see, good Christians, what little reason we have to be over-solicitous for our bodies and the things of this world. Look unto Jesus Christ, before and after His resurrection ; He, that while He lived, was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; whom the world despised, hated, persecuted, and at last crucified; yet, being for His obedience beloved of God, was raised by Him the third day from the dead; and then, that body which had so lately been torn and mangled by all the ways that malice or cruelty could invent, is now no longer subject to want or misery. The scourges that had plowed His back but three days before, the crown of thorns that had pierced His temples, and the nails and spear that wounded Him so unmercifully, did not in the least hinder that body from being raised in glory. And this, the Spirit of God assures us, shall be the reward of every faithful member of Jesus Christ. “ This corruptible body shall put (1 Cor. 15.
53.] on incorruption, and this mortal body shall put on immortality;" and we shall no longer be sensible of the inconveniences of this life, nor remember the hardships we may have met with in this vale of misery.
So that you see, that we may want a great many things which the world doats on, and suffer a great many things which flesh and blood cannot easily digest, and yet be very happy after death.
And though such as are at ease and secure, at least in their own opinion, from fear of evil, may not be much affected with these considerations, yet there are, no doubt of it, millions, who, in the midst of their afflictions, do bless God for giving them this earnest, this assurance, of a better life after death.
To conclude then the whole : I may, good Christians, every return of this season, put you in mind of these things, and you may hear them with pleasure, and neither you nor I be the better, unless we can be persuaded to lay them very seriously to heart; unless the belief of the resurrection of the body incline us to mortify the deeds of the flesh, to make our bodies fit temples of the Holy Ghost; unless we can, by this consideration, be persuaded to set our affections above, not on things on the earth, where we profess to be strangers and pilgrims; to have no abiding place, no inheritance, on this side the grave.
How infinitely does it concern every Christian here present to lay these things to heart! Death is not far from every one of us : that very moment we shall enter upon eter
SERM. nity. And is it not the interest and concern of every man
to have hope in his death; to look beyond the grave with
some comfortable assurance, that when God shall raise the [Phil. 3. dead, and judge the world by Jesus Christ, He will change 20, 21.]
our vile bodies, that they may be like unto His glorious body, that we may be happy both in body and soul ?
Now, nothing but a good life, which is the consequence of a sound faith, can give any man this comfortable hope, and free him from the fears of what may come hereafter, without which the doctrine of the resurrection will yield us no great comfort. But then this is altogether our own fault : the omnipotent hand of God, which raised our Lord from the dead, is ready to help all such as apply to Him for health and salvation, to raise them from death unto life, both here
and hereafter. (Heb. 13. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead 20, 21.)
our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good work, to do His will, working in us that which well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory, for ever and ever.
THE KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
CHRIST A NECESSARY ENCOURAGEMENT TO FORSAKE SIN.
Eph. ii. 4, 5.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He See John 5. loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us 25'; Rom.
24, 25; 11. together with Christ, &c.
5. 6; 6. 4; Eph. 2. 1 ;
5. 14; Col. THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY is that article of our 2. 13; 1
John 3. 14; Christian faith, which the Church does, at this time, recom - Rev. 20.6. mend to our meditation. And that we may receive it with all assurance, the resurrection of Christ is set before us in such circumstances as are sufficient to convince all such as are willing to be convinced, that CarisT IS RISEN FROM THE (1 Cor. 15.
20.) DEAD, AND BECOME THE FIRST-FRUITS OF THEM THAT SLEEP IN Him.
And indeed, it was necessary that Christ's resurrection should be ascertained, beyond any reasonable exception, to men who were to lay down their lives for affirming the truth of it. He therefore told His disciples, before He suffered, that He was to suffer, "and that after three days He would Mark 9. 31. rise again.” “I tell you before it come, that when it is John 13. 19. come to pass, ye may believe that I am He." A way of reasoning which our Saviour made use of on many occasions, and therefore thought it a sufficient argument.
And so did His disciples : for after they had seen Him when He was risen, and He had given them all the satisfaction their scruples could suggest; and especially after He had sent down the Holy Ghost, (according to His true promise,) to supply His place on earth, by which they were enabled to work the same miracles which He Himself had done
SERM. when amongst them: this was to them a sure argument
that the hand of God was in all this; that Jesus Christ was the beloved Son of God; that they had not been deceived in any thing that He had said, or done, or told them. For they were very sure that God could not give His testimony to a lie, or require them to lay down their lives for an untruth. And therefore, when they affirmed, “that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead,” they only said what they knew for certain, what all their senses assured them of; and therefore they did not stick to seal the truth of it with their own blood.
Thus the belief of the resurrection was established. But for what end? Was it only to convince us that we shall be
raised from the dead? Why, truly, so we may, without being Dan. 12. 2. the better for it. For the Spirit of God tells us," that they
that sleep in the dust shall wake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” So that, in truth, the resurrection of the body is like to be no blessing to such as shall rise only to be for ever miserable.
The knowledge and belief of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
therefore, is necessary upon another account; namely, to conEph. 1. 19. vince us“ of the exceeding greatness of the power of God to
us-ward that believe;" that we may be encouraged to forsake all our evil ways, and to overcome the corruption of our nature ; since we have a power to assist us which is able to raise
our dead bodies, and therefore to whom nothing is impossible. [Eph. 2. God, who is rich in mercy, even when we were dead in 4,5.]
sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” In which words, a great many very important truths are contained or implied.
First ; that there is a death of the soul as well as of the body.
Secondly; that sin is the death of the soul, and, consequently, righteousness is its life.
Thirdly; that there must be a spiritual resurrection, or else the soul will remain under the power of everlasting death.
Fourthly; that this spiritual resurrection can only be wrought by the mighty power of God, answerable to that which raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Aud the conclusion of the whole will be,-Fifthly ; that