« ZurückWeiter »
tent to be locked up in the prison of the grave, and to be arrested there this whole day, for our debt, by divine justice.
3. Observe how long Christ the Lord of life continued death's prisoner, the graye's captive : how long death had power and dominion over him, even to the third day. 0 how did devils triumph this day! We have not only bruis. ed his heel, but his heart also, and behold he lieth in dust. How did wicked men rejoice! how did death domineer over him! Men have brought him into my territories, and there I hold him bound with my fetters. Now would his enemies say, Is this the light of the world, that lies so low in the land of darkness ? Is this the teacher of the way to heaven, that cannot now move his tongue, or speak a word ? Is this he that raised others from the dead, that lies himself among the dead? Well, but the triumph of these wicked ones was but short. Christ rose and put them all to silence.
4. Observe Christ's love, that was content to let devils insult and triumph over him for a while, that they might not triumph over you, O believer, for ever. He was humbled to lie in the grave for a while, that you might not lodge in hell for ever.
5. Observe, Christ lay buried this day, that he might bury all the elect's sins for ever out of God's sight, that they might never rise against them in judgment. what comfort is this, 0 believer, thy sins are buried, and shall never appear against thee to thy condemnnation.
6. Observe, Christ lay buried this day, that he might bury the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath, with all the rest of their Levitical types and ceremonies. Christ has taken off that yoke from our necks, glory to his name.
7. Observe how Christ lay buried this day, that he might sweeten the grave, warm and perfume that cold unpleasant bed for believers to lie in. The grave was once a part of the curse denounced against fallen mankind, and it is so still to sinners out of Christ, Geo. ii. “ Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return." The grave had the nature and use of a prison, to keep the body of sinners against the great assizes, and then to deliver them up to the hands of a great and terrible judge : But Christ, by lying in it all this day, has turned it from a prison to a bed of rest, Isa. Iyii. 2. " He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in bis righteousness.” Why? as Christ there did rest in hope, so shall believers be partakers of his hope. See Psal. xvi. 10. ** My flesh shall rest in hope.” So Proverbs xiv. 32. 6. The righteous hath hope in his death."
Exhortation. As ye would partake of the virtue of Christ's lying in the grave, see that ye get union with Christ now by a true faith ; death nor the grave will not loose this union, it is indissolvable. O believer, the grave shall be a sweet privileged place to you ; sin nor guilt shall not lie down there with you. Sin is a bad bed-fellow, but a worse grave-fellow. That is a terrible word, Job xx. 11.
66 His bones are full of the sins of his youth, which shall lie down with bin in the dust.” It shall not be so with you. No, Christ has freed you of guilt, and has made your bed to sleep in ; it is like a soft bed in a quiet rooin, where the weary shall be at rest. Christ himself keeps the keys of the room, and watches by you while you lie sleeping there, and will be ready to open the door to let you out again. “ I have the keys of death,” Rev. i. 18. None can take them out of his hand,
On the Resurrection of Jesus CHRIST, from 'Thess. i. 10.
6. Whom God hath raised from the dead."
THE resurrection of Christ from the dead is a fundamental article of our religion, and serves to support all the rest: For
1. If Christ rose from the dead, then he was a person sent from God, to do that work in the world which he
gave because the majesty of heaven would never have given an impostor such glorious credentials as a resurrection from the dead; a work which nothing but omnipotency could accomplish.
2. If Christ rose from the dead, all the promises of the gospel, relating to the enjoyments and blessings of a future
life, will certainly be fulfilled to them; and whatever Christ has said, may be depended on, and trusted to, as certainly to come to pass.
3. It is true indeed, the Christian religion is so framed, as in all respects to be admirably serviceable to the ends and purposes of a temporal felicity; for the devout and awful regard to God, and a future life, and those principles of generous love and charity, which it tends to inspire mankind with, contribute highly to the good order and peace of the world. If pride and envy, if covetousness and ambition, if malice and revenge, if falsehood and deceit; if such passions as these are the true causes of all those calamities and misfortunes which men groan under, then the gospel, which strikes so directly at all these, even in men's tempers and hearts, as well as in their outward conversation, doth lay the surest foundations possible for a quiet and comfortable life in the present world.
Yea, the gospel of Christ strengthens the obligations of the law of nature; it furnishes men with far nobler motives to perform all the duties of that law, and threatens severer punishments for the breach of it; and thus it highly conduceth to the welfare of society and government.
4. The true foundation and origin of atheism or deism, is a man's coming under a stated resolution to endure no curb or restraint in the prosecution of his design of being happy in this world, by the enjoyment of its pleasures; and therefore the scripture or the gospel, which pretend to abridge men of this liberty, and would oblige them to a strictly abstemious and self-denying life, and a ready submission to all sufferings which the power and malice of the world may at any time inflict for the profession of it, must of course be rejected as any divine revelation, and made the mere invention of a set of crafty designing men, who were fond to be the heads of a new religion, and of bringing the world to submit to their imposition.
5. As for the religion of Mahomet, he was a man of a vicious profligate life; and he framed it to serve a carnal worldly interest; it was planted in the world by force and violence, and never offered any other arguments to persuade men of the truth of it, but the sword and heavy taxes and exactions. But, with respect to the Christian religion no. thing of this kind can be pretended.
6. 'The law of nature is a divine impression on the reasonable nature of man, by which he is informed what is good and evil, and directed how to behave himself as a rational creature ought to do. Now, the gospel adopts and enforces this law with the strongest arguments and considerations.
7. Many who are baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, do treat him in such a manner, as Mahometans, who are his professed enemies, would abhor to do. The Mahometans do honour bim' with the venerable titles of the Word and Power of God. And though they will not allow him to be so great a prophet as Mahomet, yet their prophet has taught them so much respect, and so high an esteem for ours, that, should they be witnesses to the affronts some offer him here, they would be ready to revenge them upon them.
8. Some matters of fact may be so convincingly made out by the testimony of others, as to bring men to a perfect assurance of the truth of them, so as there can be no room left to suspect any fraud or deceit therein. For if we must not thus believe the testimony of others, there could be no administration of justice in the world; for legislators and governors cannot be in every place to observe what is done by every person, but must depend on the testimony of others in dispensing rewards and punishments to good and bad, according to their several merits. Again, all our civil interests and privileges depend on this kind of testimony; for how can we justify our claim to houses, lands. goods, or effects, which we come to possess by virtue of birth or parentage, will or testament, disposition or sale, but by the testimony of others ? Again the refusal of this testimony would cut off all kind of history, geography, or chronology, as useless, or as mere fable and romance. We shouid not believe there was ever any such thing as the Roman empire, or Roman emperors; we should not believe there is any kingdom or city in the world, but such as we have seen
with our eyes.
9. All sects and parties of men, since Christ's days, have granted, that there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who was born at Bethlehem in Judea, in the reign of Augustus Cæsar, and crucified at Jerusalem in the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate being then the Roman governor in Judea. The Mahometans acknowledge all this frankly except the last part, out of an excess of respect to Jesus Christ; they will by no means allow of his infamous crucifixion and death, but affirm, that he was taken up into heaven, and soine image of him only left upon the cross in his room, by which the Jews, as well as his own followers, who pretended to be witnesses of the fact, were imposed on, and made to believe that he suffered, when in reality he did not. But this is a groundless fiction, contrary to all sense and reason, like
many others in their Alcoran. But however, they all own that there was such an excellent person, who lived such a life, taught such doctrine, and wrought such miracles, as Christians give out.
10. The Jews freely own there was such a person wbo died such a death at Jerusalem: And hence they bestow the reproachful name on Hirn, of Talui, or a person that was hanged, and call the Christians, the servants of Talui. Though they disown him to be the Messiah, yet they never refuse there being such a person. Their learned country. man, Josephus (no Christian) his testimony concerning him is well known to all the learned world, Antiq. Jud. lib. xviii. cap. 4. p. 261. Edit. Genev. 1955, where he plainly testifies of the life, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of the fulfilling of the prophecies in him, and of the wonderful conversion both of Jews and Gentiles to the faith of his gospel. Some indeed question the genuineness of this passage of Josephus, but without just ground; for we find this testimony taken notice of as his by very an. ciept writers, as Eusebius in Hist. Eccles. lib. I. cap. ii. page 30. Edit. Paris, 1659, in vita Tiberii : also by Nicephorus Calistus, by Sozomen, by Jerom, by Isodorus Pelusiola, fc.
Object. This passage is not taken notice of by the ancient defenders of Christianity, as Justin Martyr, Origen, Tertul. Jian, &c. Ans. The reason of this might be, the copies of Josephus they chanced to make use of might want this tes. timony, which, in all likelihood, was razed out of as many copies as the malicious Jews could come at: For this tes. timony of such a famous man as Josephus, one of their own country and religion, against the Jews, for treating such an excellent person, so barbarously, could not but expose them