« PreviousContinue »
out-cries, and his eyes to their grievous sufferings; and when they shall be overcome with fear and despair, God will scorn and mock at their insufferable misery.
That the Lord Jesus Christ hath redeemed us from
eternal death, and, by degrees, rescues us from a spiritual death.
WE read in the fifth chapter of the Revelations of St. John, that he wept bitterly, because no being in heaven and earth, nor under the earth, was able to opet the book sealed with seven seals, that was in God's right hand. At that instant one of the twenty-four elders spake to him:“Weep not, behold the Lion of the “tribe of Judah hath prevailed to open the book, and
to loose the seven seals.” Thus we have until now wept bitterly, because we could find nobody in the armies of Israel to encounter with that powerful monster, Death. But let us also wipe our tears, and take good courage, my beloved; for this same Lion of the tribe of Judah is appointed to fight with this dreadful enemy : our victorious and triumphing David, who had torn in pieces the infernal Lion, bruised the ancient serpent's bead, and “spoiled principalities and powers, triumph“ing over then in his cross,” Col. ii. 15. It is he that hath undertaken this glorious combat ; it was for that purpose that he left for a while the throne of God the
a Father, and the company of his holy angels, 1 Sam. xvii.
It was for that intent that he came into the camp and confusion of Israel. He hath not borrowed the weapons and assistance of the world, Heb. ii. All that he hath taken from us is our frail nature. But," he hath “armed himself with rigliteousness, as with a breast"plate, and hath put on the helmet of salvation. He " hath clothed himself with a vengeance as with a " cloak; he hath trodden the wine-press and nobody “hath assisted him," Isa. lix. Ixiji. But his arm hath saved him, and his hand hath upheld him; as David cut off Goliah's head with his own sword, Jesus Christ hath overcome death by death. Like unto the strong Sampson, he hath destroyed all the enemies of his glory by his death, 1 Sam. xvii. He hath overcome, in dying, him who had the empire of death, that is, the devil, Heb. ii. and hath delivered them, “who through " the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bon
dage.” Then was fulfilled the saying of Hosea, “O " death, I will be thy plague ; O grave, I will be thy “ destruction,” Hos. xiii. And that of Isaiah," He “ will swallow death up in victory, and the Lord God “ will wipe away tears from off all faces, and the re“buke of his people shall be taken away from all the
" earth,” Isa. xxv. 1 Tim. vi. This blessed prince, : king of kings and lord of lords, who only hath immor
tality, and dwelleth in inaccessible light, hath destroyed death, and brought to light life and immortality by the gospel, 1 Tim. i. “O death where is thy sting ? 0 "grave where is thy victory ? The sting of death is “ sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks “be to God who hath given us the victory through our " Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. xv.
This great God and Saviour has perfectly redeemed
us from eternal death, as he himself teaches us in the gospel of St. John: “He that heareth my word, and be“ lieveth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, " and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed “ from death unto life," ch. v. 24. “ I am the living “ bread, which came down from heaven; if any map " eat of this bread he shall live forever,” chi vi. 51. ver. 49." Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness “and are dead ; this is the bread which cometh 'down " from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not “ die,” ch. viii. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my word, he shall never taste of death. I
am the resurrection and the life; he that liveth and be“ lieveth in me shall never die; and he that believeth “in me although he were dead yet shall he live," ch. xi. “ The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is "eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom. vi. "Blessed antt holy is he that hath part in the first reu surrection. The second death shall never have any
power upon him," Rev. xx. In a word the gates of Well, that is to say, death, cannot prejudice them who are settled upon Jesus Christ, the rock of eternity. This merciful Saviour hath also delivered us from the spiritual death, Eph. ii. For we being dead in our trespasses and sins, he hath quickened us, and raised us up together unto newness of life. Col. ii. He hath carried our sins in his body, upon the cross, that he, dying unto sin, we might liveunto righteousness. 1 Pet. ii. We are buried with him in bis death by baptism, that as Jesus Christ is raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father, we should also walk in the pewness of life, Rom. vi. “Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the “dead, and Jesus Christ shall enlighten thee,” Eph. v.
For by his death he has not only reconciled us to God the Father, Rom. vi. Col. i. but he hath also procured to us the Holy Spirit that creates in us a new heart, and imprints the image of his holiness, Ezek. xxxvi. 2 Cor. v. He makes us become new creatures, and regenerates us by the incorruptible seed, 1 Pet. i. This is that which the scripture names the first resurrection, Rev. xx. St. Peter was ravished in admiration at this great and wonderful benefit, and therefore he ackpowledged it: “Bles“sed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “which according to his abundant mercy, hath begot
ten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of “Jesus Christ from the dead," 1 Pet. i. God discovered to the prophet Ezekiel a field covered with dry bones, and commanded him to prophecy upon these bones, Ezek. xxxvii. At the prophet's command, they began to draw near to one another; then the nerves began to appear, the flesh to grow and to be covered with skin; but there was no life till God commanded the prophet to prophecy again, “ Thus saith the Lord, Spirit, come “ from the four winds, blow upon these dead bodies, “and let them rise from the dead.” Then the spirit entered into them, they began to revive, and they stood upon their legs. This is the lively and true image of the first resurrection ; for the spirit of God that blows where it listeth, regenerates us by degrees, Job. iii. and the new man is created in our hearts by little and little as the child grows in the mother's womb.
When Joshua brought the children of Israel into the land of promise, he destroyed not all the Canaanites, Josh. xxiij. there remained some who became scourges in their sides, and thorns in their eyes. Thus our true and spiritual Joshua, who has let us into the kingdom of his grace, hath not altogether destroyed all our evil affections ; some yet remain, that are like priekles in our sides, and like swords that pierce through our souls. They yet render our life bitter and unpleasant; there
5 fore we often desire death to come and put a period to this conflict. Sip was in possession of us, as a strong man armed in a house ; but Jesus Christ is entered into our souls, and become master; he hath therefore bound and chained sin, and hath pailed it to his cross. But this furious beast, though he hath received a mortal wound, and is ready to give up the last gasp, yet struggles and foams within us. Our blessed Saviour hath extinguished with the real stream of his blood, the infernal flames of our cursed affections; but yet there remain in the ashes some sparkles of this devilish fire, that yet cause in us feverish fits. Only this merciful Redeemer, of his infinite goodness, hath loosed us from the devil's chains; but that we might have cause to be humble, to desire the increase of grace, and long for the arrival of his glory, he leaves about us some of the troublesome fetters; by bis holy spirit he files them off by degrees; but, one day he will take them away from us.
At the voice of this Prince of Life, that reaches to the very bottom of our hearts, we are risen from the sepulchre of our vices with our grave-elothes about us, as Lazarus when he came out of his tomb. We are like the ancient slaves who were set at liberty; we bear upon our foreheads the visible marks of our ancient bondage; but one day our Lord Jesus shall cover these marks of infamy and disgrace with an heavenly diadem. If you desire another image of our spiritual condition, fancy to yourselves a dead man cast into a foul pit or sink, unto whom life is restored in a moment; afterwards by de: