« السابقةمتابعة »
give to death, but a real conqueror over death. Yea here lies death itself slain, and the grave conquered: “ Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'
SEVENTHLY, Our Redeemer continued under the power of death for a time. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, Matth. xii
. 40. For clearing the import of Christ's conti. nuing under the power of death for a time, consider,
1. That death hath a very strange and strong power in the world, which invades and prevails against all the children of men. For what man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?' says the Psalmist. This interrogation plainly imports, that no man, high or low, great or small, rich or poor, can possibly cover hiinself from the stroke of death. And no wonder, for as the apostle tells us, · death hath reigned from Adam,' Rom. v. 14. The empire of death hath made an universal spread through the face of the earth, and, with an unrelenting fury, bears all the sons of men before it. And it is no way strange it be so, seeing it acts under the conduct of Heaven's irrepealable decree, . It is appointed unto men once to die,' Heb. ix. 27.
2. That the empire, power, and dominion of death, was introduced into the world by sin, Rom. v. 12. 'By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. The wages of sin is death.' And therefore man no sooner gave into apostacy from his Maker, but the awful sentence went forth, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,' Gen. iii. 19.
3. That our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of life, fell under the power of death, and that in its most frightful and amazing form : for he died the painful, the cursed, the shameful, and lingering death of the cross; and this he did not by constraint, but with the utmost cheerfulness.
4. That it was for the sins of his elect people that the Lord of life came under the power of death. Their sins were imputed to him: “ He was made sin for us,' says the apostle,
who knew no sin.' Because their sins were imputed to him, therefore death, the punishment of sin, came upon him. He was not only wounded for our transgressions, and bruised VOL. II.
for our iniquities, but he died for our sins. He bare the sins of many; and for the transgressions of his people was he stricken, yea, stricken even unto death.
5. That though our Redeemer continued under the power of death, yet it was only for a time. Though this king of terrors brought the King of glory down to the gloomy shades of the grave, yet he could not hold him long there. Hence the apostle says, Acts ii. 24. God loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.' Christ was imprisoned for our debt, and thrown into the Hands of death; but divine justice being satisfied, it was not possible that he should be detained there, either by right or by force ; for he had life in himself, and in his own power, and had conquered the prince of death.
6. That the time of our Redeemer's being under the power of death was only till the third day. For he rose the third day after his death ; which was the time he had often prefixed, and he kept within it. He was buried in the evening of the sixth day of the week, and rose in the morning of the first day of the following week; so that he lay in the grave about thirty-six or thirty-eight hours. He lay so long, to shew that he was really and truly dead, and no longer, that he might not see corruption.
If it should be asked, What were the reasons and ends of this amazing humiliation of the Son of God? I answer, That Christ humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
1. That he might satisfy divine justice in the room and stead of an elect world. When man by sin rebelled against his rightful Lord, incensed justice called aloud for vengeance upon the atrocious offender; and had its rigorous demands been answered, all the race of mankind had perished in the depths of death and damnation for ever. But Christ, by the whole scene of his humiliation, has so fully answered all its demands of his chosen, that it can crave no more. For he, by his obedience and satisfaction, as the Surety of unjust sinners, has so perfectly paid all their debt, that justice is completely atoned and pacified. Hence our Redeemer drew his last breath on the cross with these words, “It is finished.'
2. To confirm and seal his testament. He had bequeathed many great and glorious legacies to his chosen ; all which had failed for ever, if by his death he had not ratified and
confirmed this his testament. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all whilst the testator liveth,' Heb. ix. 16, 17. Wherefore, that our Lord's testament might in that respect be made good, he sealed it with his heart's blood : • This cup,' says he is the new testament in my blood, i. e. the new testament, which is ratified by my blood.
3. To conquer and subdue the devil. This malicious and subtil enemy of mankind had by his craft and power brought the whole race of Adam in subjection to his empire, reigning over and leading them captive at his pleasure. But our Lord through death destroyed him that had the power of death. It is true, the crucifying of Jesus was the devil's plot; for he put Judas upon betraying him, the Jews upon accusing him, Pilate upon condemning him, and the soldiers upon executing him. But our Lord outshot him in his own bow, and şnared and took him in his own hands. Thus the devil, by plotting and pushing on the death of the Son of God, to prevent his own ruin, procured and promoted it.
4. To finish transgression, and put an end to sin, yea, to take away sin with all its direful effects, Rom. viii. 3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh.' For when an elect world lay sunk under the guilt of sin, captives under the power of it, vile under the pollution of it, undone under the weight of it, and most miserable under the baneful effects of it, Jesus humbled himself to the death on purpose to rescue and deliver them from all this. • We have redemption through his blood,' says Paul, “ even the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace.' And says another apostle, . The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.'
5. To deliver his people from the curse of a broken law, and the wrath of God. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Gal. iij. 13. « Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come,' i Thess. i. 10. When all the curses of the law were marching forth, as it were in battle-array, against the children of Adam, and the dreadful wrath of an Almighty God was ready to pour in ppon them, then did our Lord step in, and, by his deeply
debased birth, life, and death, divert the furious storm from his chosen, so that not one curse, or the least drop of wrath, shall ever fall to their share.
6. Lastly, That in due time he might bring all his people to the complete possession of immortal glory. When he saw them wallowing and sinking in the depths of sin and iniquity; when he saw them exposed to eternal death and damnation by reason of sin, and when he took a view of them as absolutely unable to do any thing towards their own relief and deliverance, his soul pitied them, and his bowels of compassion yearned upon them; so that in their stead he satis. fied divine justice, subdued their enemies, abolished sin and death, rescued them from hell and wrath, and prepared for them eternal life and glory,
I shall conclude with a few inferences.
1. Here see the love of Christ in its most distinguishing glory. For the deeper he debased and the lower he humbled himself, the higher did he raise, and the more clearly did he manifest his love, What heart can conceive, what tongue can express, the greatness of this love; It is love without a precedent or parallel. It passeth knowledge.
2. Here see the awful and tremendous severity of divine justice, which no less could satisfy than the Son of God's humbling himself, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Its resentment against sin swelled so high, that nothing could appease it, or move it to let go the criminal offenders, till the Son of God fell an expiatory sacrifice to it. And when the time of its acting this bloody tragedy upon our Redeemer came on, it would not forego nor abate one tittle of its demands. It would not spare him in one article of suffering which it could exact of him.
3. See here the prodigious evil of sin. Though the generality of men look upon it with a very light and easy eye; though they account it a very small matter to break in upon the divine law, and to transgress the bounds which the great God has fixed therein; yet whoever duly reflects upon the deep humiliation and sorrowful sufferings of Christ, will entertain quite other thoughts about it. Of all evils sin is infinitely the worst. Though a holy and just God has given many severe and terrible testimonies of his displeasure against sin, yet none of them appear with such an amazing awe as that which appears in the humiliation, death, and sufferings of his dear Son.
4. Let this look the pride of our hearts out of counte. nance; and let us think nothing too mean or low for us, whereby the glory of God and the good of others may be advanced. For Christ humbled himself deeper and lower than any ever did or.can do, to procure the favour of God to sinners, to magnify the divine law and make it honourable; and therein hath left us an example, that we should fol.
low his steps.
5. Let this teach you highly to prize the salvation purchased by Christ, and offered to sinners in the gospel. Say not of the sufferings of Christ, by your slighting the redemption thereby procured, What needs all this waste? Surely sin must be of a more malignant nature, the justice of God more exact and rigorous, souls more precious, and salvation and mercy more difficult to obtain, than is ordinarily imagined. Take a view of Christ in his amazing humiliation and heavy sufferings, and see if ye can entertain those thoughts.
6. Let impenitent sinners and rejecters of Christ tremble. Was this done in the green tree, what shall be done to the dry? If Christ, when he became a sinner only by imputation was exposed to such heavy sufferings as would have sunk millions of men and angels, what shall be the fate of those who spurn at his love, reject the offers of his grace and mercy, and refuse to accept of his salvation? What can they expect, but that the wrath of God shall come upon them to the uttermost, and they shall undergo the sorest punishment that incensed and insulted justice can inflict?
7. Accept of Jesus Christ as he offers himself in the gospel. He is willing to receive sinners, nay, the very worst and most abandoned of them, or he had not swimmed through a sea of blood to catch them. O! be not despisers, but cheerful and willing receivers, of him who has written his love and good will to you in characters of blood,
8. Revenge the death of Christ on your lusts and idols. Give no quarter to, nor suffer them to live, that were the cause of his most humiliating and ignominious death. To cherish any sin or lust; is a high indignity done to the Son of God, and as it were a crucifying him afresh. O! then fly from every sin, account it your enemy, and Christ's enemy; and shew your love to the Redeemer, who humbled