Page images

freshness of undecayed energy, at bis call. He declares also, that “all power is given unto him in heaven and on earth," and that he is “ the Almighty."

It can be as little doubted, that Jesus will exert his omni. potent agency to raise the bodies of his saints from the destruction of the tomb, for he has repeatedly affirmed it. “I will raise them up at the last day.” The scenes of “ that day” will be terrible in their sublimity, and glorious for bis people. When the destinies of this world are accomplished, and the number of his elect complete, then shall the portals of heaven open, and the Son of Man come forth in his own glory, in the glory of bis Father, and attended by his angels. The archangel, as his herald, shall go before him, sounding the trump of doom, announcing his approach, and summoning all nations to take their stand at his judgment-seat. Before the brightness of his coming, the sun shall be turned into blackness, the moon into blood, and the stars shall fall from their orbits. This solid globe shall quake to its centre, the hills melt, and the heavens which now en. circle the earth as a curtain, be rolled together as a scroll. The throne for judgment shall be erected, and the Ancient of Days shall sit upon it. His all-quickening voice shall reach the deepest grave, and the remotest verge of earth and ocean, and all the generations of the dead shall start to life at bis call. The marble tombs shall be riven asunder, and the superincumbent earth be heaved off by the awakened tenants of the grave. Each spirit shall again take possession of, and animate its own body. Then the living shall be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. Every one now shall appear in the light of eternity, and be compelled to go to his own place. The same church-yard shall pour

forth two distinct tides of immortals, each flowing on to join its kindred stream. The one clear and unruffled as the river of life, which flows before the throne of God; the other dark and agitated as the ocean lashed into foam by the raging hurricane. In two great and separate companies shall all the generations of men take their station before the august tribunal of the omnipotent Judge, and receive the sentence which shall fix their eternal destinies. Then shall the Saviour be acknowledged by all the intelligent creation as God over all, blessed for ever. The truth of his own words shall then be clearly established" I am be that liveth and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for' ever more, and have the keys of hell and of death.” What dismay will then fill the hearts of those who now audaciously degrade him to a level with themselves, and recklessly tear from him his divine and mediatorial glory. When it is too late to share his salvation, shall they be compelled to confess him as the “ King of kings, and Lord of lords."

3. But Jesus is the life as well as the resurrection. He is, indeed, the author of all life; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are on earth. His omnipotent word gave existence to every thing that lives. But it is to the new creation, of which he is constituted by his Father the special head, that we regard this claim as particularly applicable.

Christ is the life of every believer. Mankind, in their natural condition, are universally dead, under sentence of death, and liable to have the penalty inflicted on them every moment; but in consequence of the meritorious obedience and expiatory death of the Son of God, all who believe in Him are rescued from this unhappy condition. Their doom is averted, their guilt cancelled, and eternal life is secured for them. “ There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus ;” and every Christian may join in the triumphant challenge of the Apostle—“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is ever at the right band of God, who also maketh intercession for us."

It is likewise in virtue of the mediation of Christ that the Holy Spirit is imparted to quicken the soul dead in trespasses and sins. The apostacy of man not only subjected him to temporal, but also involved him in spiritual, and exposed him to eternal death. From every one of these shall Christ ultimately deliver his people ; and by his Spirit he animates their dead souls-inspires them with holy desires -implants in them heavenly dispositions, and transforms them into his moral image. Hence, while the Spirit is said to reside in their hearts as in a holy temple, Christ is like.. wise declared to dwell in them. He is their life—the life of all their

graces, the source of all their mercies, the spring of all their joys, and the sure foundation of all their hopes. Christ's flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. Every one who has tasted of his grace adopts the language of Paul as their own—“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and who gave himself for me."

But Jesus shall ultimately bestow upon all his faithful followers eternal life. He has already secured it to them by the shedding of his blood; he has gone to prepare for them an eternal habitation in his Father's house, and be shall come again and receive them unto himself, that where he is they may also be. His free and immutable promise to them is“I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish.” To animate them to constancy, and encourage them in their conflicts with their spiritual adversaries, he says,—“ Be ye faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.”

And at the solemn assize of the universe he will fully realize all their expectations: when they meet him in the air before his judgment-seat, they shall be thus addressed :—“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world." These assurances and glorious anticipations nerve

[ocr errors]

them with courage in the midst of dangers, and enable them to exclaim, even in the prospect of martyrdom, " I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

II. Reflect on the glorious immunities which Jesus promises.

1. Jesus promises life to the faithful dead. « He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." This promise has a limited fulfilment in the experience of every Christian, even in the present world. He was once dead in sin; all his moral powers were completely paralysed, or exerted only for evil; sin reigned in him with entire do.. minancy, and, with the grasp of a remorseless tyrant, crushed every holy energy, so that the very inclination of living to God was completely eradicated from his soul. But when, in this miserable condition, the Spirit of God breathed into him the principle of a new and noble life, he instantly became alive unto God, and consecrated all his faculties to the service of his Saviour.

But this promise bas also an obvious reference to the body which is subjected to the power of death by reason of sin. The tabernacle in which the soul resides must be dissolved by the cold and corrupting touch of the fell destroyer ; it must crumble into dust; but it shall be constructed anew, and greatly increased in beauty. The dead bodies of the saints shall be raised from the grave and made immortal. The confident expectation of this has soothed the heart of many a dying Christian, and lighted up in his languid eyes the sparkle of immortal hope, and enabled bim to look into the desolations of the grave without a shudder. It has shed a halo of celestial radiance around the bed of the dying saint which has reflected its brightness on weeping relations, infused resignation to the divine will into their hearts, and


stopped a flood of gushing tears. My Christian brethren,your godly friends may bave been torn from your embrace by the stroke of death; you may have tenderly watched over their departing hour-heard their last sigh, and witnessed their dying struggle ; you may have performed for them the last sad offices of humanity, and left their dear remains in the church-yard, a prey to corruption; but, amid your tears, you beheld the bow of promise irradiating the region of clouds and darkness, and presaging the coming of a morning which will usher in an eternal day. You know that the dust you have left in the cold ground is precious to the Saviourthat he will watch over it, and, at the destined moment, fashion it like unto his own glorious body. Then “this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.” The trumpet of God shall then proclaim to the prisoners of the tomb the jubilee of release, and “death shall be swallowed up in victory." Why should ye who have been bereft of pious friends sorrow as those who have no hope ?

6 Ye believe that Jesus died and rose again, and ye know, also, that they who sleep in Jesus, God will bring with him.” The tender ties which death has severed shall again be formed; the cold dust which you have so often watered with the tears of regret, shall again be organized, and endowed with undying vigour and immortal beauty. It shall be inhabited by a holier spirit, and glow with purer affection ; the visions of the wrapt seer shall be fully realized—“Thy dead men sball live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust, for thy dew shall be as the dew of herbs, and the grave shall give up her dead.”

2. Jesus promises an exemption from death to the living believer in him. “ Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” This promise seems at first sight to be contradicted by facts. The righteous and the wicked are alike subject to the stroke of death. The difficulty is at

« PreviousContinue »