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justly observes, "What we call the various senses of a Scriptural expression are, in reality, but the various parts of the complete sense." We may consider the Lord Jesus as abolishing death, spiritually—miraculously— in his own person—penally—comparatively —and absolutely. Whatever seems obscure, from the brevity of the statement, will 1 hope be made plain in the process of illustration: and the whole taken together must show that the Apostle's language, though bold, is not more bold than just
First He abolishes death, spiritually ; that is, in the souls of his people. To all these, without exception, it may be said, in the words of Paul to the Ephesians, "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." Not that they were dead in every sense of the word: for the Apostle speaks of their walking, at the very time, according to the course of this world; but they possessed no spiritual faculties, felt no spiritual sensations, performed no spiritual actions. They were insensible and indifferent to the favour, and image, and presence, and service of the blessed God. But quickened by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, now they breathe the breath of prayer, and of praise. They feel the pulse of sacred passion. They hunger and thirst after righteousness. They see his glory: they hear his voice: they taste that the Lord is gracious. They walk in the way everlasting: fk'ht the good fight of faith: and labour, that whether present or absent, they may be accepted of him. "The body is indeed dead, because of sin; but the spirit is life, because of righteousness."
Secondly. He abolished death by his miracles, while he was on earth. We find this among the proofs of his Messiahship, addressed to the disciples of his forerunner, in prison: "Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them."
He displayed his power over death in the case of the ruler's daughter. She was at the very interesting age of twelve years old. While her distressed father was gone to implore the Saviour's aid, she expired; and a messenger was sent after him to communicate the dismal tidings, and topreventhis troubling the Master, now it was too late. While there is life there is hope: but who can raise the dead? O, says Jesus, it is never too late to apply to me—nnhj believe. When he arrived, the offices of death had commenced. The body was laid out; and the minstrels were making a noise. "And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and
called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat"
Another instance of this dominion was in the case of the widow's son of Nain. This young man was older than the ruler's daughter, and had been longer dead; for they were carrying him to his burial; and the widowed mother of an only child would not have allowed this, we may be assured, before the time. Our Saviour met the procession; and before any prayer was addressed to him, be saw who was weeping behind—"and he had compassion on her, and said unto her. Weep not" At the sound of which, she draws back her vail, to see what stranger interested himself on her behalf, and, with more kindness than wisdom, enjoined upon her an impossibility. "But he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, \oung man, I say unto thee. Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother." What a present!
Behold Lazarus. Our Saviour loved him; but suffers him to fall sick; and leaves him to the natural effect of the disease. Two days he abode still in the same place, after hearing that he was dead. When he reached the suburbs of Bethany, the process of putrefaction was supposed to have begun. "Then when Mary was come where Jesus was. aad saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw ber weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him! They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept"—He ordered the stone to be rolled away, and in a tone of uncontrulable authorityf he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, hound hand and foot with grave-clolhes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."
Once more: we are told that as the Redeemer expired, "the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Thirdly. He abolished death in his cwn person. His own rising from the dead is very distinguishable from all the former instances of resurrection. The ruler's daughter, the widow's son, Lazarus, and the saints in Jerusalem, were raised by the power of another; but he rose by his own power. Of his dominion, even over his own death and revival, he had spoken before—" No man taketh my life from me; I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. Destroy this temple, said he, "and in three days I will raise it up:" and he spake of the temple of his body. They rose as private individuals; but lie as the head and representative of his people: and because he lives, they shall live also. They only rose to a temporal life, and were again subject to disease and mortality; but "he being raised from the dead, dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him." Hence he is called "the first-begotten of the dead ; the first-born from the dead; and the first that should rise from the dead;" referring not to the order of time, but to peculiarity, supremacy, and influence.
Fourthly. He abolished death penally. Thus he has destroyed death as to its sting. The sting of death is sin—because sin exposes us to the wrath of God, and binds us over to suffer: and the strength of sin is the law—for cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. But Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. One died for all, says the Apostle. His death was equivalent to the destruction of all the redeemed: there was such value in his suffering, derived from his dignity, t hat in lieu of our perdition it was accepted as " an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweetsmelling savour." Every moral purpose that could have been answered by the punishment of the sinner has been better subserved by the death of the Saviour. "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you m Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." And did he himself bear our sins in his own body on the tree? Was the chastisement of our peace laid on him, and by his stripes are we healed? Well may those who believe enter into rest: well may they sing,
"If sin be pardon'd, I'm secure;
He has not abolished going home ; and falling asleep; and departing: but he has abolished death. This leads us to observe that he has.
Fifthly. Abolished death comparatively: I mean, as to its terror. This is not the same with the foregoing particular. That regards all the people of God, and extends even to those who die under a cloud of darkness, and a load of depression: it belongs to a Cowper, who died in despair, as well as to a Hervey, who said, " Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." All believers die safely; there is no curse for them after death, or in death. In this sense,
their end is peace; peace in the result, if not in the passage. But their end is generally peace m experience as well as in result There are, however, cases of constitutional infirmity that may not only exclude joy, but even hope. Sometimes the nature of the disorder is such as to hinder sensibility, or expression. Sometimes, too, God may allow the continuance of fear, even in those he loves, as a rebuke for loose or irregular walking; and as a warning to others. It is a great mercy, as the tune draws on, to be raised above the torment of fear, and to be able to say, The bitterness of death is past!
And this is commonly the case with those who die in the Lord. It has been the case even with those who have had to encounter a death of torture. Martyrs—men, women, children, have embraced the fiery stake, with all joy and peace in believing. It has been the case with those who have had every thing agreeable in their condition, and attractive in their connexions. They have said to those they were leaving, " You are dear—but I am going to him, who is all-wise, all-kind, allfair." And such have been their views of opening glory, and such their earnests and foretastes of it, that they have not only been resigned to go, but have longed to depart to be with Christ, which is far better. Yea, we have often observed this to be the case with those who all their lifetime were subject to bondage througli fear of death. When the hour has arrived, they have had mercy and grace to help in time of need; and, amazed at their former apprehensions, and their present feelings have said;
"Tell me. my soul.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
"I have tasted Canaan's grapes;
While spectators have been ready to envy them their condition, and have seen our doctrine explained and verified—" He hath abolished death."
Finally. He will do this absolutely. He will abolish the very state: "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet The last enemy that shall be destroyed ia death. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." This amazing change, this infinite consnmmation, will be accomplished by hit agency —I "will raise him up at the last day." He "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his own glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
"His own son hand shall wipe the tears.
And DEATH ITSELF bUAI.L DIE.
Let it not be said, but this is a future event; and the Apostle speaks of the past—he hag abolished death. His recomlieuse is as certain as his sufferings. Purpose and execution are the same with him. His promise is fulfilment One day with the l/)rd is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. "He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It Is Done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end."—
These reflections should relievo us in the loss of pious connexions. And how many have bereaving dispensations constrained, in speaking of their relations, to look back and say—I had a child—a parent—a wife—a husband! Who has lived a few years in this vale of tears, and not had reason to sigh, "Lover and friend hast thou put far from me?" And is sensibility forbidden us? "Our tears become us, and our grief is just"—Yet may a departing saint say, with a dying Saviour, " Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children." Yes, we are objects of pity—not they. We who are still in the wilderness—not they who have entered the land of promise. We who are still in the conflict—not they who have gotten the victory. We who rise in the morning to cares that corrode us, fears that alarm us, infirmities that press us down—not they who have obtained joy and gladness, and whose sorrow and sighing are fled away. Did they die? No—death is abolished.
"Why do you mourn departing friends,
Are they dead? No.—Their spirits are now with God: and their "flesh rests in hope. He will not leave their souls in hell, neither will he suffer his holy ones to see corruption" for ever. "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Again. Should not this subject raise the minds of Christians above the fear of dissolution?—You dread it—but what is it you
dread 1 According to Paul—nothing—for he has abolished death. Yea—this is only one part of your consolation. This is ail negative comfort But remember, he has turned the curse into a blessing: he has made of the enemy a friend. Instead of robbmg you, it relieves; it enriches—it is the mitking of you for ever.—To Die Is Gain!
Behold the recommendation of religion; by which I mean the religion of the Gospel; for there is no other that reaches the case of fallen man. The people of the world often affect to despise Christians; but there are moments in which they really envy them. When conscience has a wakeful moment, and they are led to reflect on the believer's final safety and privileges, they exclaim, with Balaam, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." And no wonder; for he alone is the happy man whose chief interest is provided for; who is safe for the soul and eternity—not he who has health, but he who is prepared to lose it —not he who prospers in life, bat he who has hope in death—not he who lays up treasure on earth, but he who in heaven has a better and an enduring substance—he who can sav, with Job, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though* after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mroe eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." Ignorance may conceal from a man his danger: wickedness may harden his heart against a sense of it: vain reasonings may stupirV the conscience with an opiate—but there B no true victory over death but tliat which is derived from the cross and grace of the Redeemer. Happy ye who are found in him! It is not presumption, but becoming confidence, in you, to dare every thing—and to triumph over all. "Nay, in all things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus oar Lord."
To conclude. What then is the duty of a sinner? It is, to remember that it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment; that his breath is in his nostrils; that if he leaves the world a stranger to the Lord Jesus, temporal death will only be the passage to eternal—but that there is hope in Israel concerning this thing: tliat God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him; that he came, not only that we might have life, but hare it more abundantly—and that we cannot escape, if we neglect so great salvation-—It is, to pray, with Moses, "So teach us to number our days, that wo may apply nnr hearts unto wisdom." It is, to " seek the I/jrd while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near." All else, for creatures circumstanced like you, is folly or trifling. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent Ho that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abjdeth on him."
Say then—" I am mortal—yet an heir of eternity. Every breath I draw brings me nearer the hour when this world will recede from my view, and proclaim its vanity and vexation. Then, O solemn thought! these states of changeless existence will open on my view in all their tremendous grandeur and importance. Then, dreadful alternative! the glories of heaven, or the damnation of hell, will be my portion.—To which of these am I hastening?—What am I? A sinner.— What then is my doom! The wages of sin is death.—But is there no escape !' With the Lord there is mercy, and with him there is plenteous redemption.' O cheering hope! But is it for me? He came into the world to save sinners; he died for the ungodly; and why not for thee?—And can he save me? He is able to save to the uttermost And will he save me? 'Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out' O heavenly intelligence? 'Tis a saying worthy of all acceptation—I am saved by hope—To I he throne of grace will I flee—on the Friend of sinners will I rely—and in the exercise of faith, love, patience, and obedience, 'all the days of my appointed time will I wait'—till —it will be nothing more—till my change comes." Amen.
that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. If God Imd told us that we cannot walk on the sea, or flee in the air, we should have believed him, without risking life by experiment: but here—in declarations equally express, men are not content without trying whether his word will come to pass or not— And, were it not for the dreadfulness of the result, we should say—"And let them try? But 'God will be true, and every man a liar!'"
Another mode by which he destroys, is to separate what God has joined together; such as principle and practice; doctrine and duty; pardoning mercy and renewing grace: the water and the blood—for he came by water and blood; not by water only, or blood only, but l•y water and blood: these were not severed in their eflusion from the cross, and they cannot be divided in their application to the soul. That man is not yet truly awakened and enlightened from above, who does not see and feel his equal need of —the Saviour and the Sanctifier—the Son of God and the Spirit of God—the work of the one for him, and of the other in him.
To such a connexion I am going to lead you. For be it remembered, every Christian has two Advocates, two Intercessors; and they should be viewed relatively to each other. "Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for them. The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us." We have therefore three things in view. And,
I. Let us consider The Intercession Op Christ. Dr. Owen, long ago, complained, and there is much truth in the remark, that we do not dwell enough, in our thoughts, on the present life of Christ: for he is living, not a life of glory only—though even this should delight those that love him ; but a life of oflice. It was expedient for us that he went away. It was for our welfare that he ascended mto heaven, as well as descended into the grave. "He was delivered for our oflences, and was raised again for our justification." "Because he lives, we shall live also." "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, heing reconciled, we sliall be saved by his life."
When our Saviour left our world, he ascended up Jar above all heavens; and frailty might have feared, that his concern for us would have ceased with his residence among us. When a friend is going far away, we sometimes painfully think of the proverb, "Out of sight out of mind." Men, as they rise, too commonly lose much of their recollection; and forget even those to whom they were under obligation before—" Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him." But says Paul, though Jesus the Son of God be passed into the heavens, "we have not an lii^rli priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." The ligature which unites us remains—and is all sensibility and life. Hod we seen him as he was going up, we should have prayed, with the dying thief, "I/jrd, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." And does he not? Yes; '• lie ever livcth to make intercession for us."
Volumes might be written on the subject; but we must be brief. It has been questioned whether this intercession be vocal. Why should it not? He is "clothed in a body like our own." Certainly the common reason assigned—that it would be inconsistent with his present dignity, is not valid. For do we not know that dignity is never injured by condescension ?—That true greatness is tender and sympathizing? That his goodness is his glory ?—" Do we forget the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich ?"—And that he does not give up the kingdom to God, even the Father, till he has put down all rule, and all authority, and power?
But, not to intrude into things which we have not seen, it is enough for us to know,
First That his intercession is real. It consists in his personal appearance; in the presentation of his sacrifice, and claiming the benefits arising from it ^Eschylus was strongly accused, and likely to be condemned. His brother Amyntas engaged to be his advocate. Amyntas had done much for the commonwealth, and in a certain action, in their service, had lost a hand. He came into the court The court was uncommonly crowded; and all were eager to hear him plead on so interesting an occasion. But he said nothing—he only held up his dismembered arm!! The audience and the judges were so moved, as immediately to order his brother's release. It does not appear that the High Priest said any thing when he entered the holy place: but what he did, spake loud enough. He wore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on his breast-plate; he took the blood of the slaughtered victim in a basin, and sprinkled the mercy-seat, and burned incense before the golden altar, and then came forth and blessed the people. Abel's blood spake to God from the ground; that is, it demanded vengeance: the blood of Jesus is equally vocal; but it speaketh better things than that of Abel—it calls for mercy. How did John see him in the vision? As a lamb that had been slain: that is, with the wound in the neck, and the blood on the wool. Without a figure—he retains in his glorified body the marks of his suflerings and death. The saints and the angels behold them, and exclaim, " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!" God views them, and says, "Ask of me, and 1 will give thee the heathen for thine in
heritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." So the Saviour said himselt—Therefore "doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life for the sheep."
Secondly. It extends to all trur important interests. We may look upon his prayer for his disciples, on the night in which he was betrayed, as a specimen of llis continued mtercession before the throne. And for what does he not there plead? Is it their preservation? "Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." Is it their renovation ?" Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Is it their union ?" That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one." Is it their glorification ?" Father. 1 will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
Thirdly. It is successful. "I know," says he, "that thou hearest me always." The conclusion is derivable from the grandeur </ his character, and his nearness to God. He is called God's own Son, his only begotten Son, his dear Son, in whom his soul delighteth. It is derivable from the ground of his demand. By his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, he has rendered the communication of the blessings we need consistent with the truth, and righteousness, and law of God. It is derivable from Divine fidelity. He who is faithful to his saints, cannot be unfaithful to his Son: the joy that wss set before him, as the recompense of his sufferings, he must possess. He "shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. He shall see the travail of his soul and shall be SatisFied."—To which we may add, the interest he feels in his people. What he asks on their belialf, he asks for himself; for they are one and "he is glorified in them."
II. Let us examine The Intercession Of The Simrit: for the Spirit "itself maketh intercession for us."
In entering on this part of our discourse, it is necessary to observe, that, subjectively and instrumentally considered, religion is our oirn work: we run the race set before us; and fight the good fight of faith: tee belierc. and repent, and pray—But, owing to our natural ignorance, and weakness, depravity, and aversion, it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. To his Spirit, therefore, all our renovation is ascribed: we