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of his kingdom. r-Three things are here to be
I. The battle..
II. The victory.
III. The pursuit. After which,
IV. I shall subjoin some practical improvement. .
I. We shall consider the battle betwixt death and the Lord of lise.—And,
i. Under what character has the Lord of lise fought this battle? He fought it,
(1.) As the Head and representative of the elect world, as their Mediator,who took burden on himself for all that the Father had given him; for otherwise he had nothing to do with death; nor had it any concern with him: John, v. 15. "I lay do\vn my life for the sheep." Adam, the head of all mankind, had betrayed us all into the snare of death, we were not able to break it, or to make our escape thence ;' but Christ undertook it for the elect, as their Head, and so fought death in their room and (lead: 1 Tim. ii. 6. "Who gave himself a ransom for all." "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquitks, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed," Isa. liii. 5. He bare what we should have borne, stood the stiock which would have ruined us; He was wounded and bruised in this battle, but all for us: ver. 8. "For the transgression of my people was be stricken." And hence we are reckoned in law to have died in him: Rom. vi. 10. 11. "For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ve also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but "Jive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." N 3 (*•)
(2.) As their Redeemer and Deliverer: Hofea, xiii. 14. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death: O death! I will be thy plagues; O grave! I will be thy destruction." By sin we sell a prey to devouring death, the broken law concluded us under the power of it. The prey could not be taken from this mighty one, without both price and power; so Christ engaged with death, and by his death ransomed death's prisoners: Heb. ii. 15. "That through death he might destroy death, and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who, through sear of death, were all their lisetime subject to bondage." He spoiled it os its power, that they might get free. The kingdom he had received of his Father could not be recovered, nor the captives set free, without stroke of sword, his overcoming death, that held them fast; therefore he fought the battle.
(3.) As a Captain or General on the head of his people: Heb. ii. To. "For it became him, for whom are all things, aud by whom are all things, 'in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation persect through suffer* ings." God has designed that the elect shall sight their way to heaven, and therefore has given them Christ as a Leader and Commander: Isa. lv. 4; "Behold I have given him for a Leader and Commander to the people." They must march through the Red Sea of death to the upper Canaan; but Christ goes before, drying up the waters. There are cords of death on the most lively believer, yet he must set himself to break them; but Christ has made them like a thread of flax, when it teucheth the fire. They must encounter the king of terrors; but the King of glory, marching in the
sront, has received all the deadly sting. 1 shall
2. The attack made upon him by death. Death, sinding the Mediator standing in sinners stead, advances against him with all its forces, with which it was surnished by the breach of the sirst covenant; and, when managing this contest,
(1.) Death brings up its strength against him, that is, the law, i Cor. xv. 56. "The sting of death is fm, and the strength of sin is the law," which, sinding him a sinner by imputation, cut him down, Gal* iv. 4. "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." The Law cries for justice against sin, and Justice takes the Mediator by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest; then he "restored what he took not away," Psal. lxix. 4. The law brings up against him a black band of curses, and pours into his foul: Gal. iii. 13* "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for. us." It soon began to shoot out its arrows against him. When he was born, he must be born in a stable, laid in a manger, for there was no room for him in the inn; persecution is raised against him in his infancy; he must be all along a man of sorrows, poor, not having where to lay his head ; he is hungry, thirsty, weary, &c. At length' the battle grows hotter, the heavens are black above his head; and in the garden, and on the cross, showers of arrows dipt in the curse fly at him. He sweats bloody drops, falling down to the ground,— cries out, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
(2.) Meanwhile he that has the power of death (Heb. ii. 14.) advances against him, Satan sets upcn him in the wilderness with most grievous temptations, Matth. iv. Beingbeat back, he returns* andrenews the assault: Luke, iv. 13, "And when the devil had ended all the temptations, he departed from him for a season." At length the hour and powers of darkness come, and then the bands of hell exert their utmost vigour against him, storms from hell blow hard upon him, the fountains of the great deep art; opened on him: John, xiv. 30. "Hereaster I will not talk much with you, for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." Col. ii. 15. "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
(3.) The congregation of men dead in trespasses and sins stir up themselves against him: Isa.liii. 3. "He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces. from him ; he was .despised, and we esteemed him not." Judas betrays him, the Jews gape on him like a lion, crying, Crucify him; Pilate condemns him; he is scourged, crowned with thorns, smitten on the crowned head, his. body racked till it was all out of joint, nailed to the cross, hangs there mocked, and pierced with a spear.
(4;) Death comes with its sting upon him, and pierces him to the heart, and casts him down dead: 1 Cor. xv. 56. "The sting of death is sin;" this gives it the power of hurting any. The guilt of all the sins of the elect lay upon him, which could not but make the sting of death inexpressibly sharp and piercing. Thus a thousand deaths in one met together on him, for the Lord made the iniquities of us all to meet on him; and all the arrows that should have pierced all the elect for ever, have entered into his bowels; and, having fallen under death, he was carried prisoner to the grave..:
D. Let Us consider the victory Christ obtained.
He tells us he has sought and overcome: Rev. iii. 21. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Yea, he has triumphed over his enemies in his glorious ascension into heaven. Consider,
i. How this victory over death was obtained. It was obtained,
(i.) By his death. This was the decisive stroke: Heb. ii. 14. "That through death he might destroy death, and him-that had the power of death." It was such a victory as Samson's last victory over the Philistines, when he pulled down the house, and died himself with the Philistines in the fall of it; and therefore he cried upon the cross, "It is sinished." Death has done its utmost, and can do 110 more; by his death he satissied the law in all it had to demand of hiraas the elect's Surety; he paid the debt, and removed the guilt. Sin being removed, and the law satissied, death has no more that strength or sting wherewith it set upon him at sirst ; and so it sell with him.
(2.) By his resurrection. Thereby he got up above death, which had lost its power, and could hold him no longer, Acts, ii. 24. "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not poisible that he should be holden of it." He stood a Conqueror in the grave, death's own quarters; he broke asunder its iron bars, and brought away its keys ; behold they hang at his girdle, Rev. i. 18. "And have the key3 of hell and of death." . So death's dominion over those that are his, got an irrecoverable stroke, and he that had the power of death as to the elect, namely, as an executioner, viz. the devil, was also destroyed.—I next inquire,