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debt for which he was imprisoned was fully discharged, so that the law of God must acknowledge itself to be fully satisfied in all its claims and demands. His resurrection from the dead was, therefore, his discharge or acquittance upon full payment, which could not in justice be denied him.
And, indeed, there never was a more glorious manifestation of the name of God to the world, than was made in that work: That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:11. Oh how illustriously, yea, astonishingly, is the love of God to poor sinners displayed in Christ's exaltation! When, to show his complacency and delight in our recovery, he hath openly declared to the world, that his exalting Christ to all that glory, to which no mere creature ever was or can be raised, was bestowed upon him as a reward for that work, that most grateful work of our redemption: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him." Phil. 2: 9. There is an "emphatical pleonasm in that word;" it implies super-exaltation! A greater proof of the Father's high satisfaction in the recovery of poor sinners cannot be given. For this, therefore, God the Father shall have glory and honor ascribed to him in heaven to all eternity.
Now this singular exaltation of Jesus Christ, as it properly respects his human nature which alone is capable of advancement, for, in his Divine nature, he never ceased to be the Most High; so it was awarded to him as a common person, and as the Head of all believers, their Representative in this as well as in his other works. God therein showing what, in due time, he intends to do with the persons of his elect, after they, in conformity to Christ, have suffered a while. Whatever God the Father intendeth to do in us, or for us, he hath first done it to the person of our Representative, Jesus Christ. And this, if you observe, the Scriptures carry,
in very clear and plain expressions, through all the degrees and steps of Christ's exaltation, namely, his resurrection, ascension, session at the right hand of God, and returning to judge the world; of which I purpose to speak distinctly in the following discourses.
He arose from the dead as a public person: "If ye then be risen with Christ," saith the apostle, Col. 3: 1; so that the saints have communion and fellowship with him in his resurrection.
He ascended into heaven as a public person; for so it is said in Eph. 2: 6. "He hath raised us up," or exalted us together with Christ; "and hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." We sit there in our Representative. And when he shall come again to judge the world, the saints shall come with him. So it is prophesied, "The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." Zech. 14: 5. And as they come with Christ from heaven, so they shall sit on thrones with him. They shall be assessors with the Judge. 1 Cor. 6: 2. This deserves a special remark, that all this honor is given to Christ as our Head and Representative, for thence results abundance of comfort to the people of God. Carry it therefore along with you in your thoughts, throughout the whole of Christ's advancement. Think, when you hear that Christ is risen from the dead, and is in all his glory and authority in heaven, how sure is the salvation of his redeemed. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession." Heb. 7: 25. Think how safe the people of God in this world are, whose Head is in heaven. It was a comfortable expression of one of the fathers, encouraging himself and others with this truth in a dark day; "Come (said he,)
why do we tremble thus? Do we not see our Head above water?" If he live, believers cannot die; Because I live, ye shall live also." John, 14: 19.
And let no man's heart suggest a suspicion that this wonderful advancement of Christ may cause him to forget his poor people groaning here below under sin and misery. For the temper and disposition of his faithful and tender heart is not changed with his condition. He bears the same respect to us as when he dwelt among us; indeed he there lives and acts upon our account. Heb. 7:25. 1 John, 2: 1, 2.
How seasonable and comfortable will the meditations of Christ's exaltation be to thee, O believer, when sickness hath wasted thy body, withered its beauty, and God is bringing thee to the dust of death! Think, then, that that "vile body shall be conformed to the glorious body of Christ." Phil. 3:21. As God hath glorified, and highly exalted his Son, "whose form was marred more than any man's," so will he exalt thee also. I do not say, to an equality in glory with Christ, for in heaven he will be discerned and distinguished, by his peculiar glory, from all the angels and saints; as the sun is known by its excellent glory from the lesser stars. But we shall be conformed to this glorious Head, according to the proportion of members. Oh whither will love mount the believer in that day!
Having thus spoken of Christ's exalted state, to cast some general light upon it, and engage your attention to it, I shall now proceed briefly to consider this his wonderful exaltation, under the above-mentioned heads: his resurrection, ascension, session at the Father's right hand, and his return to judge the world.
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
"He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."-Matt. 28: 6.
We have contemplated Christ's humiliation, wherein the Sun of righteousness appeared as a setting sun, gone out of sight. But as the sun, when to us it is set, begins a new day in another part of the world, so Christ, having finished his course in this world, rises again, and that to perform another glorious part of his work in the world above. In his death, he was in a sense totally eclipsed; but in his resurrection, he begins to recover his light and glory. An angel descends from heaven, to roll away the stone, and, with it, the reproach of his death; and to announce his resurrection to the two Marys, whose love to Christ had drawn them to visit the sepulchre, where they lately left him.
At this time (the Lord being newly risen) the keepers were trembling, and as dead men, so terrible was the majesty and awful solemnity attending Christ's resurrection. But, to encourage these pious souls, the angel anticipates them with these good tidings: "He is not here; for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord lay:" as if he had said, be not troubled, though you have not the end you came for, one sight more of your dear, though dead Jesus; yet you have not lost your labor; for, to your eternal comfort I tell you, "he is risen, as he said." And to put it out of doubt, come hither and satisfy yourselves, "See the place where the Lord lay." In which words we have both a declaration and confirmation of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
1. "He is not here." Here indeed you laid him, here you left him, and here you thought to find him as you left him; but you are happily mistaken. He is not here. He is risen, g9; the word imports the active power, or self-quickening principle, by which Christ raised himself from the state of the dead. It was the divine nature, or Godhead of Christ, which revived and raised the manhood.
2. Here is also a plain confirmation of Christ's resurrection, and that, first, from Christ's own prediction. "He is risen, as he said." He foretold that which I declare to be now fulfilled. Let it not therefore seem incredible to you. Secondly, by their own sight. "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." The grave hath lost its guest; it is now empty; death hath lost its prey. It received, but could not retain him; "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Hence,
Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the Almighty power of his own Godhead, revived, and rose from the dead; to the terror and consternation of his enemies, and the unspeakable consolation of believers.
That our Lord Jesus Christ, though laid, was not lost in the grave, but the third day revived and rose again, is a truth confirmed to us "by many infallible proofs," as Luke witnesses. Acts, 1: 3. We have testimonies of it both from heaven and earth. From heaven, we have the testimony of angels who cannot deceive us. The angel tells the two Marys, in the text, "He is risen." We have also testimonies of it from men, holy men, who were eye-witnesses of this truth, to whom he showed himself alive, by the space of forty days after his resurrection, on no less than *nine occasions. At one time five hundred brethren saw him at once. 1 Cor. 15: 6. These were holy persons, who durst not deceive, and
John, 20:14. Mark, 16: 12. John, 20:19. 1 Cor. 15: 5-7. 1 Cor. 15: 8. John, 20: 26. John, 21: 1, 2. Luke, 24:36.