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words: “ If when we were enemies we were re“conciled to God by the death of his Son ; much
more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his “ life.” 1 “ 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, is risen again ; who is even at the right “ hand of God; who also maketh intercession for
us.--Who shall separate us from the love of “ Christ?”? Surely our Friend, who died, and rose again for us, will take care “ that none shall
pluck us out of his hands,” and will come at death to " receive us to himself, that where he is “ there we may be also.”
Finally, as Christ is risen from the dead, he “ is “ become the first-fruits of them that slept.”— “ The hour cometh, when all that are in the graves “ shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they “ that have done good to the resurrection of life, “and they that have done evil to the resurrection “ of damnation.” At that awful period, he will ascend his tribunal, finally to separate his people from his enemies : and “these shall go away into “ everlasting punishment, but the righteous into “ life eternal.” The bodies of the wicked will be rendered incorruptible, and capable of enduring the vengeance reserved for them, “ where their “ worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched ;"3 and those of the righteous will be raised spiritual and immortal, and fitted to participate the holy joys of heaven. The Saviour, the Lord Jesus,
? Rom. viii. 33–35.
1 Rom. v. 10.
“shall change our vile body, that it may be “ fashioned like unto his glorious body, according “ to the working whereby he is able even to sub“ due all things unto himself.”! In this prospect, the believer, when strong in faith, may adopt the apostle's words and say, “O death, where is thy “stingO grave, where is thy victory? The “sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is “ the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us “the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
III. We conclude with a few hints by way of application. It may
be useful, especially to young persons, to contemplate the prevailing scepticism and infidelity of the age, in connexion with the subject we have been considering. God hath vouchsafed us a revelation of himself, and of his will concerning us, authenticated in the most unanswerable manner, most beneficial in its nature and tendency, and exactly suited to our circumstances: yet this revelation is opposed, reviled, or ridiculed, by numbers who pretend to virtue ; and affirm that unbelief, at most, can only be a harmless error, neither very criminal nor dangerous. But the scripture speaks a very different language. We read of “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing “ from the living God.” Our Lord says,
“ How believe who seek honour one of another?" “Light is come into the world, and men love “ darkness rather than light, because their deeds “ are evil.” Unbelief therefore is the offspring of ambition, love of sin, and dislike to God and ho
| Phil. ii. 20, 21.
liness. It rejects the remedy which everlasting wisdom and mercy have provided for our miseries ; it “ makes God a liar;" it despises his grace, and defies his power and justice ; and is therefore inseparably connected with eternal damnation. “Let “no man deceive you with vain words.”
Men oppose the scripture because it opposes their favourite pursuits; and denounces an awful sentence against all who do not humbly repent, believe the gospel, and become the faithful subjects of the holy Jesus. They do not in reality need more evidence; but a more unprejudiced, teachable, and spiritual mind. “ If they believe not “ Moses and the prophets,” or the apostles and evangelists ; “ neither would they be persuaded “though one rose from the dead.” Beseech the Lord therefore to remove from you all hardness of heart, and contempt of his word and com‘mandment;'“ to open your understandings that
you may understand the scriptures ;” and to
give you repentance to the acknowledging of “ the truth ; that you may recover yourselves out “ of the snare of the devil, who takes sinners cap“ tive at his will."
But beware also of a dead faith ; which may keep men in the way of instruction, but is wholly unavailing to salvation. The faith demanded by our Lord is a living active principle: it receives him for all those purposes which he came into the world to effect; it applies to him, depends on him, and follows his directions : and, “ working by “ love,” “ purifying the heart,” and “ overcoming “the world,” it produces unreserved obedience to
Christ, and careful imitation of his most perfect example.
The subject before us is peculiarly suited to the burdened conscience and desponding heart of those, who are “ poor and of a contrite spirit, and “tremble at God's word.” Did the Son of God so love and pity proud obstinate rebels and enemies, as to give himself a sacrifice on the cross for their sins? And will he now, on his glorious throne, refuse to stretch forth his powerful arm, to rescue the humble penitent who earnestly supplicates his mercy? No, my brethren, he delights to save. Come to him, wait on him, wait in the use of the appointed means, and you shall soon know the power of his resurrection, the depth of his condescension, and the riches of his grace.
But if we have “ tasted that the Lord is gra“ cious,” and can rejoice in having such a Representative and Advocate, to manage our concerns in heaven ; let us remember that we are honoured to be his representatives on earth; to shew the excellency of his religion by our example; to be useful to his redeemed people, and to promote his cause in the world. Let us then ask ourselves whether Paul, when constrained by the love of Christ, would have declined any service, as too mean, laborious, self-denying, expensive, or perilous, which the command and honour of his Lord called him to perform? And whether he would not have more fully improved even our talents and advantages, than we have hitherto done ? Let us review our conduct, and consider what ability or opportunity we have of honouring
Christ among men; let us reflect on our obligations and prospects; and see to it that “our lights “ be burning and our loins girded,” that when he cometh we may be found watching, and employed in a proper manner.–And “ may the God of
peace, who brought again from the dead the
great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood “ of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in
every good work to do his will; working in us “ that which is well-pleasing in his sight through “ Jesus Christ. To whom be glory for ever and “ ever. Amen."