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who confirmed their testimony with their blood. So that no point of religion is rendered more infallibly certain than this before us.
And blessed be God that it is so. For if it were not, then were the Gospel in vain, 1 Cor. 15: 14, seeing it hangs the whole weight of our faith, hope, and salvation upon Christ as risen from the dead. If this were not so, then would the holy and divinely inspired apostles be found false witnesses. 1 Cor. 15: 15; for they all, with one mouth, constantly, and to the death, affirmed it. If Christ be not risen, then are believers yet in their sins. 1 Cor. 15: 17. He "was raised again for our justification." Rom. 4: 25. Whilst Christ was dying, and continued in the state of the dead, the price of our redemption was paying; the payment was not completed till he revived and rose again. Hence the whole force and weight of our justification depends upon his resurrection. Nay, had not Christ risen, the dead in Christ "had perished," 1 Cor. 15: 18, even the dead who died in the faith of Christ, and of whose salvation there now remains no ground to doubt.
Moreover, had he not revived and risen from the dead, how could all the types that prefigured this have been satisfied; and all the predictions of his resurrection, by which it was so plainly foretold, have been fulfilled? See Matt. 12:40; Luke, 24: 46; Ps. 16: 10; 1 Cor. 15: 4. Had he not risen from the dead, how could he have been installed in the glory he now has in heaven, and which was promised him before the world was, on account of his death and sufferings? "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living," Rom. 14:9; and that, in this state of dominion and glorious advancement, he might powerfully apply the virtue and benefits of his blood to us. So, then, there remains no doubt of the fact of Christ's resurrection. Instead, therefore,
of attempting further to confirm it, I will proceed to explain the nature and manner of his resurrection.
1. Christ rose from the dead with awful majesty. "And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men." Matt. 28:2-4. Human infirmity was not able to bear such heavenly majesty as attended the scenes of that morning. Nature sank under it. This earthquake was, as one calls it, a sign of triumph, or token of victory, given by Christ, not only to the keepers and the neighboring city, but to the whole world, showing that he had overcome death in its own dominions, and, like a conqueror, lifted up his head above all his enemies.
2. And to increase the splendor and the triumph of that day, his resurrection was attended with the resurrection of many of the saints; who had slept in their graves till then, and were awakened and raised to attend the Lord at his rising. "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Matt. 27:52, 53. This wonder was designed, both to adorn the resurrection of Christ, and to give a specimen or pledge of our resurrection; which also is to be in virtue of his. This indeed was the resurrection of saints, and none but saints, the resurrection of many saints, yet it was but a special resurrection, intended only to show what God will one day do for all his saints; and for the present, to give testimony of Christ's resurrection from the dead. They were seen, and known of many in the city, who doubtless never thought to have seen them any more in this world. To inquire curiously, as
some do, who they were, what discourse they had with those to whom they appeared, and what became of them afterwards, is vain. God hath cast a veil upon these things, that we might content ourselves with the written word; and he that "will not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will he believe though one rose from the dead."
3. As Christ rose from the dead with those attendants who accompanied him at his resurrection; so it was by the power of his own Godhead that he quickened and raised himself; and by virtue of his resurrection were they also raised who accompanied him. It was not the angel who rolled back the stone that revived him in the sepulchre, but he resumed his own life; so he tells us, John, 10: 17; "I lay down my life, that I may take it again." Hence, 1 Pet. 3: 18, he is said to be put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, that is, by the power of his Godhead, or Divine nature, which is opposed there to flesh, or his human nature. By the eternal Spirit he offered himself up to God, when he died, Heb. 9: 14; that is, by his own Godhead, not the third Person in the Trinity, for then it could not have been ascribed to him as his own act, that he offered up himself. And by the same Spirit he was quickened again. Therefore the apostle well observes, "that he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead." Rom. 1:4. Now, if he had been raised by the power of the Father, or of the Holy Spirit only, and not by his own, how could he be declared by his resurrection to be the Son of God? What more had appeared in him than in others? Others are raised by the power of God. So that in this respect also it was a marvellous resurrection. Never any did, or shall rise as Christ rose, by a self-quickening principle. For though many dead saints rose at that time, it was by virtue of Christ's resurrection that their graves were
opened, and their bodies quickened: as he said when he raised Lazarus, "I am the resurrection and the life." John, 11:25.
4. It may therefore be truly affirmed, that though some dead saints were raised to life before the resurrection of Christ, yet Christ is "the First-born from the dead," as he is called, Col. 1: 18. For though Lazarus and others were raised, yet it was not by themselves, but by Christ. It was by his virtue and power, not their own. And though they were raised to life, yet they died again; but Christ dieth no more. "Death hath no dominion over him." He was the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.
5. Christ rose as a public person; as the first-fruits of them that slept." 1 Cor. 15: 20. I desire that this may be well understood; for upon this account it is that our resurrection is secured to us by the resurrection of Christ; and not a resurrection only, but a blessed and happy one, for the first-fruits both assured and sanctified the whole harvest.
Now that Christ did rise as a public person, representing and comprehending all the elect, who were called the children of the resurrection, is plain from Eph. 2: 6, where we are said to be risen with, or in him. So that, as we are said to die in Adam, as the branches die in the death of the root; so we are said to be raised from" death in Christ, who is the Head, Root, and Representative of all his spiritual seed. And why is he called the First-born, and First-begotten from the dead, but with respect to the whole of those that are also to be born from the dead in their time and order? As sure as the whole harvest follows the first-fruits, so shall the general resurrection of the saints to life eternal follow this birth of the first-born from the dead. It shall surely follow it, and that not only as a consequent follows an antecedent, but as an effect follows its proper cause.
There is a three-fold influence of Christ's resurrection upon the resurrection of the saints, as at once its meritorious, efficient, and exemplary cause:
The resurrection of Christ is a meritorious cause of the saints' resurrection, as it completed his satisfaction, and so our justification is properly assigned to it. Rom. 4:25.
It is also the efficient cause of it. For when the saints shall rise, they shall be raised by Christ as their Head, in whom is the effective principle of their life. Your life is "hid with Christ in God." Col. 3: 3. So Rom. 8: 10. "And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness" that is, though you are really united to Christ by the Spirit, yet your bodies must die as well as other men's; but your souls shall be immediately, upon your dissolution, swallowed up in life. And then it follows, verse 11, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you;" that is, though your bodies must die, yet they shall live again in the resurrection; and that by virtue of the Spirit of Christ which dwelleth in you, and is the bond of your mystical union with him your Head. You shall not be raised as others are, by a mere word of power, but by the Spirit of life dwelling in Christ your Head, which is a choice prerogative indeed.
Christ's resurrection is also the exemplary cause or pattern of our resurrection. "He being the first and best, is therefore the pattern and measure of all the rest." "Who shall change our vile body that it may be fa shioned like unto his glorious body." Phil. 3:21. Now the conformity of our resurrection to Christ's may be noticed in the following particulars:
Christ's body was raised substantially the same that it