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because hereby Christ rested from the great and difficult work of purchasing redemption, and received God's testimony, that it was finished. The death of Christ was the greatest and most wonderful event that ever came to pass; but that has a great deal in it that is sorrowful. But by the resurrection of Christ, that sorrow is turned into joy. The head of the whole church, in that great event enters on the possession of eternal life; and the whole church is, as it were, “ begotten again to a lively hope,” í Pet. i. 3. Weeping bad continued for a night, but now joy cometh in the morning, the most joyful morning that ever was. This is the day of the reigning of the head of the church, and all the church reigns with him. This is spoken of as a day which Was worthy to be commemorated with the greatest joy of all days: Psal. cxviii. 24. “ This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” And therefore this, above all other days, is appointed for the day of the church's spiritual rejoicing to the end of the world, to be weekly sanctified, as their day of holy rest and joy, that the church therein may rest and rejoice with her head. And as the third chapter of Genesis is the most sorrowful chapter in the Bible ; so those chapters in the evangelists, that give an account of the resurrection of Christ, may be looked upon as the most joyful chapters in all the Bible: for those chapters give an account of the finishing of the purchase of redemption, and the beginning of the glory of the head of the church, as the greatest seal and earnest of the eternal glory of all the rest.
It is further to be observed, that the day of the gospel most properly begins with the resurrection of Christ. Till Christ rose from the dead, the Old Testament dispensation remained : but now it ceases, all being fulfilled that was shadowed forth in the typical ordinances of that dispensation : so that here most properly is the end of the Old Testament night, and Christ rising from the grave with joy and glory, was as the joyful bridegroom of the church, as a glorious conqueror, to subdue their enemies under their feet; or was like the sun, rising, as it were from under the earth, after a long night of darkness, and coming forth as a bridegroom, prepared as a strong man to run his race, appearing in joyful light to enlighten the world. Now that joyful and excellent dispensation begins, that glorious dispensation, of which the prophets prophesied so much; now the gospel sun is risen in glory, “and with healing in his wings,” that those who fear God's name, may “ go forth and grow up as calves of the stall.”
II. Christ's ascension into heaven. In this I would include his sitting at the right hand of God. For Christ's ascension and sitting at the right hand of God, can scarcely be looked upon as two distinct things : for Christ's ascension was nothing else, but ascending to God's right hand; it was coming to sit down at his Father's right hand in glory. This was another thing whereby Christ was put into a capacity for the accomplishing the effect of his purchase; as one that comes to be a deliverer of a people as their king, in order to it, and that he may be under the best capacity for it, is first installed in his throne. We are told that Christ was exalted for this end, that he might accomplish the success of his redemption : Acts. v. 31, “ Him hath God exalted with his right hand, for to give repentance unto Israel, and the remission of sins."
Christ's ascension into heaven was, as it were, his solemn enthronization, whereby the Father did set him upon the throne, and invest him with the glcry of his kingdom which he had purchased for himself, that he might thereby obtain the success of his redemption in conquering all his enemies: Psal. cx. 1, “ Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Christ entered into heaven, in order to obtain the success of his pur. chase, as the high priest of old, after he had offered sacrifice, entered into the holy of holies with the blood of the sacrifice, in order to obtain the success of the sacrifice which he had offered. See Heb. ix. 12. He entered into heaven, there to make intercession for his people, to plead the sacrifice which he had made in order to the success of it, Heb. vii. 25.
And as he ascended into heaven, God the Father did in a visible manner set him on the throne as king of the universe. He then put the angels all under him, and subjected heaven and earth under him, that he might govern them for the good of the people for whom he had died, Eph. i. 20, 21, 22.
And as Christ rose from the dead, so he ascended into heaven as the head of the body and forerunner of all the church ; and so they, as it were, ascend with him, as well as rise with him : so that we are both raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ, Eph. i. 6.
The day of Christ's ascension into heaven was doubtless a joyful, glorious day in heaven. And as heaven received Christ, God-man, as its king, so doubtless it received' a great accession of glory and happiness, far beyond what it had before. So that the times in both parts of the church, both that part which is in heaven, and also that which is on earth, are become more glorious since Christ's humiliation than before.
So much for those things whereby Christ was put into the best capacity for obtaining the success of redemption.
I now proceed to show how he accomplished this success. And here I would observe, that this success consists in two things, viz., either in Grace, or in Glory. That success which consists in the former, is to be seen in those works of God which are wrought during those ages of the church wherein the church is continued under the outward means of Grace. That success which consists in the latter of these, viz., Glory, has its chief accomplishment at the day of judgment.
I would first consider the former kind of success, consisting in God's grace here ; which mainly appears in the works of God during the time that the Christian church continues under the means of grace; which is from Christ's resurrection to his appearing in the clouds of heaven to judgment; which includes the three former of those great events of providence before mentioned, which are called Christ's coming in his kingdom. In speaking of this success, I would,
1. Mention those things by which the means of this success were established after Christ's resurrection; and,
2. Consider the success itself.
§ I. I would consider those dispensations of Providence, by which the means of this success were established after Christ's resurrection.
1. The abolishing of the Jewish dispensation. This indeed was gradually done, but it began from the time of Christ's resurrection, in which the abolition of it is founded. This was the first thing done towards bringing the VOL. I
former state of the world to an end. This is to be looked upon as the great means of the success of Christ's redemption. For the Jewish dispensation was not fitted for more han one nation : it was not fitted for the practice of the world in general, or for a church of God dwelling in all parts of the world : nor would it have been in any wise practicable by them: it would have been impossible for men living in all parts of the world to go to Jerusalem three times a year, as was prescribed in that constitution. When therefore God had a design of enlarging his church, as he did after Christ's resurrection, it was necessary that this dispensation should be abolished. If it had been con. tinued, it would have been a great block and hinderance to the enlargement of the church. And besides, their ceremonial law, by reason of its burdensomeness, and great peculiarity of some of its rites, was, as it were, a wall of partition, and was the ground of enmity between the Jews and Gentiles, and would have kept the Gentiles from complying with the true religion. This wall therefore was broken down, to make way for the more extensive success of the gospel; as Eph. ii. 14, 15.
11. The next thing in order of time seems to be the appointment of the Christian Sabbath. For though this was gradually established in the Christian church, yet those things by which the revelation of God's mind and will was made, began on the day of Christ's resurrection, by his appearing then to his disciples, John xx. 19; and was afterwards confirmed by his appearing from time to time on that day rather than any other, John xx. 26, and by his sending down the Holy Spirit so remarkably on that day, Acts. ii. 1, and afterwards in directing that public assemblies and the public worship of Christians should be on that day, which may be concluded from Acts xx. 7, 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2, and Rev. i. 10. And so the day of the week on which Christ rose from the dead, that joyful day, is appointed to be the day of the church's holy rejoicing to the end of the world, and the day of their stated public worship. And this is a very great and principal means of the success which the gospel has had in the world.
III. The next thing was Christ's appointment of the gospel ministry, and commissioning and sending forth his apostles to teach and baptize all nations. Of these things we have an account in Matt. xxviii. 19, 20 : “ Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”—There were three things done by this one instruction and commission of Christ to his apostles, viz.,
1. The appointment of the office of the gospel ministry. For this commission which Christ gives to his apostles, in the most essential parts of it, belongs to all ministers; and the apostles, by virtue of it, were ministers or elders of the church.
2. Here is something peculiar in this commission of the apostles, viz., to go forth from one nation to another, preaching the gospel in all the world. The apostles had something above what belonged to their ordinary character as ministers; they had an extraordinary power of teaching and ruling, which extended to all the churches ; and not only all the churches which then were, but all that should be to the end of the world by their ministry. And so the apostles were, as it were in subordination to Christ, made foundations of the Christian church. See Eph. ii. 20, and Rev. xxi. 14.
3. Here is an appointment of Christian baptism. This ordinance indeed had a beginring before; John the Baptist and Christ both baptized. But
now especially by this institution is it established as an ordinance to be upheld in 'the Christian church to the end of the world. The ordinance of the Lord's supper had been established before, just before Christ's crucifixion. ;
IV. The next thing to be observed, is the enduing the apostles, and others, with extraordinary and miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost; such as the gift of tongues, the gift of healing, of prophecy, &c. The Spirit of God was poured out in great abundance in this respect; so that not only ministers, but a very great part of the Christians through the world were endued with them, both old and young; not only officers, and more honorable persons, but the meaner sort of people, servants and handmaids, were commonly endued with them, agreeable to Joel's prophecy, Joel ï. 28, 29, of which prophecy the Apostle Peter takes notice, that it is accomplished in this dispensation, Acts ii. 16. ... How wonderful a dispensation was this! Under the Old Testament, but few had such honors put upon them by God. Moses wished that all the Lord's people were prophets, Numb. xi. 29; whereas Joshua thought it much that Eldad and Medad prophesied. But now we find the wish of Moses fulfilled. And this continued in a very considerable degree to the end of the apostolic age, or the first hundred years after the birth of Christ, which is therefore called the age of miracles. i
This was a great means of the success of the gospel in that age, and of establishing the Christian church in all parts of the world; and not only in that age, but in all ages to the end of the world : for Christianity being by this means established through so great a part of the known world by miracles, it was after that more easily continued by tradition; and then, by means of these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, the apostles, and others, were enabled to write the New Testament, to be an infallible rule of faith and - manners to the church, to the end of the world. And furthermore, these miracles stand recorded in those writings as a standing proof and evidence of the truth of the Christian religion to all ages.
V. The next thing I would observe is the revealing those glorious doctrines of the gospel fully and plainly, which had under the Old Testament been obscurely revealed. The doctrine of Christ's satisfaction and righteousness, his ascension and glory, and the way of salvation, under the Old Testament, were in a great measure hid under the vail of types and shadows and more obscure revelations, as Moses put a vail on his face to hide the shining of it; but now the vail of the temple is rent from the top to the bottom; and Christ, the antitype of Moses, shines : the shining of his face is without a vail; 2 Cor. iii. 12, 13, and 28. Now these glorious mysteries are plainly revealed, which were in a great measure kept secret from the foundation of the world, Eph. iii. 3, 4, 5. Rom. xvi. 25, “ According to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest;" and Col. i. 26, “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages, and generations, but now is made manifest to his saints." 1.
Thus the Sun of righteousness, after it is risen from under the earth, begins to shine forth clearly, and not only by a dim reflection as it did before. Christ, before his death, revealed many things more clearly than ever they had beer. revealed in the Old Testament; but the great mysteries of Christ's redemption and reconciliation by his death, and justification by his righteousness, were not so plainly revealed before Christ's resurrection. Čhrist gave this reason for it, that he would not put new wine into old bottles ; and it was gradually done · after Christ's resurrection. In all likelihood, Christ much more clearly instructed
them personally after his resurrection, and before his ascension; as we read that he continued with them forty days, speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom, Acts. i. 3; and that “ he opened their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures,” Luke. xxiv. 45. But the clear revelation of these things was principally after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, agreeable to Christ's promise, John xvi. 12, 13, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth.” This clear revelation of the mysteries of the gospel, as they are delivered, we have chiefly through the hands of the Apostle Paul, by whose writings a child may come to know more of the doctrines of the gospel, in many respects, than the greatest prophets knew under the darkness of the Old Testament.
Thus we see how the light of the gospel, which began to dawn immediately after the fall, and gradually grew and increased through all the ages of the Old Testament, as we observed as we went along, is now come to the light of perfect day, and the brightness of the sun shining forth in his unveiled glory.
VI. The next thing that I would observe, is the appointment of the office of deacons in the Christian church, which we have an account of in the 6th chapter of the Acts, to take care for the outward supply of the members of Christ's church and the exercise of that great Christian virtue of charity.
VII. The calling, and qualifying, and sending the Apostle Paul. This was begun in his conversion as he was going to Damascus, and was one of the greatest means of the success of Christ's redemption that followed: for this success was more by the labors, preaching, and writings of this Apostle, than all the other apostles put together. For, as he says, 1 Cor. xv. 10, he “la. bored more abundantly than they all ;" so his success was more abundant than that of them all. As he was the apostle of the Gentiles, so it was mainly by his ministry that the Gentiles were called, and the gospel spread through the world; and our nation, and the other nations of Europe, have the gospel among them chiefly through his means; and he was more employed by the Holy Ghost in revealing the glorious doctrines of the gospel by his writings, for the use of the church in all ages, than all the other apostles taken together.
VIII. The next thing I would observe, is the institution of ecclesiastical councils, for deciding controversies, and ordering the affairs of the church of Christ, of which we have an account in the 15th chapter of Acts.
IX. The last thing I shall mention under this head, is the committing the New Testament to writing. This was all written after the resurrection of Christ; and all written, either by the apostles, or by the evangelists, who were companions of the apostles. All the New Testament was written by the apostles themselves, excepting what was written by Mark and Luke, viz., the gospels of Mark and Luke, and the book of the Acts of the Apostles. He that wrote the gospel of Mark, is supposed to be he whose mother was Mary, in whose house they were praying for Peter, when he, brought out of prison by the angel, came and knocked at the door; of which we read, Acts xii. 12: “ And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose burname was Mark, where many were gathered together, praying." He was the companion of the apostles Barnabas and Saul : Acts xv. 37, “ And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.” He was Barnabas's sister's son, and seems sometimes to have been a companion of the Apostle Paul ; Col. iv. 10, “ Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas ; touching whom ye received commandment: if he come unto you, receive him." The apostles seem to have