« PreviousContinue »
known but the reign of death would be endless, or that there was a power superior to death. But his rising from the dead as the first fruits of them that sleep to die no more, because he lives we shall live also. As by man came death, so by man hath come also the resurrection from the dead; for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But how, it will be asked, was the doctrine of Christ's death and resurrection so much calculated to produce a moral renovation of the world? I answer, by the hope it imparted to all who believed. Hence Peter says, 1st epist. 1: 3, " Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” And how came they by this hope ? Peter says" by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Well, what was the thing hoped for? He adds, 6 an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” But did this hope lead all who were begotten to it, to live a holy life? Yes, says John, “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure," 1st epist. 3: 3. comp. verse 2. The doctrine of Christ's death and resurrection was the ground of this hope, and the reason which every Christian had to give, to every man that asked him a reason why he entertained such a hope. He had no other to give, nor was any other necessary, though very different reasons are frequently given in the present day.
Faith in Christ's death and resurrection, and the hope it presented, were the beginning of a new life, to all who believed, in leading them henceforth not to live to themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again. It produced that change which is denominated in the New Testament, by the terms repentance, conversion, being born again; with vari
ous others. This could easily be shown in detail, did our limits permit, but for brevity's sake we refer the reader to the following passages : Acts 2. Luke 24, 46, 47, Acts 13, and various others. Is it asked how this doctrine came to produce such a change? I answer, the source of all the evils in men's lives lies in their hearts, Mark 7: 21, 22. Rom. 8: 7. Eph. 4: 17, 20. With this God begins in changing them. Hence Peter says, Acts 15: 8, 9, “ And God who knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” By the faith of what, let it be asked? He answers, 1st epist. 1: 22, 23, Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” And declares they were born again through the incorruptible seed of the word. And Paul says, he begat the Corinthians and others through the gospel, 1 Cor. 4: 15. Phil. 10. And what the gospel is, he states in 1 Cor. 15: 1–4; the sum of which is, that Cbrist died for our sins and rose for our justification. In short, Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to God through the death of his son. It was God's goodness, that led them to repentance, for God having raised up his son Jesus, sent him to bless them, in turning them from their iniquities, Rom. 5: 10. 2: 4. Acts 2: 26. Paul counted all things but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ. For him he suffered the loss of all things, and counted them dung that he might win Christ and be found in him, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. And what did he see in the knowledge of Jesus Christ which so deeply interested him ? He adds, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made con
formable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Phil. 3: 8-12. The influence the power of Christ's resurrection had over him to induce him to lead a holy life he goes on to show in the subsequent part of the chapter. 6 What !” say some,
“ do you mean to affirm, that none are reconciled to God, have truly repented, and are really changed persons, but such as have believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? And is faith in this the only thing which can give man hope of a future life, and lead him to holiness of conduct?! Yes, this is what I do affirm. I admit, that without this many persons are frightened out of the world into the church, and have very confident hopes that their souls at death will go to heaven. Such persons are indeed converted, but it is a conversion to some sectarian creed, or from an openly vicious life to a self righteous one. But all this is not conversion to God; nor does it deserve such a name, for by the objector's own acknowledgments, the doctrine which converted men in the apostolic age is not believed, nor is it even supposed to be necessary. Such persons profess to be reconciled to God, but it is not through the death of his son, but by means of terror. A preacher raves about hell and damnation more like a bedlamite than a sober minded man, and the ignorant and weak minded are very much frightened. This, kept up for a few weeks or months, is called a revival of religion. Then we have a flaming account of a large number who have joined the church, and others not quite so much scared are reported as in a hopeful way. But, was it faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus which produced all this ? No; this they have heard very little about, and care as little, nor has the hope they now entertain of going to heaven at death,
any real connexion with such doctrines, and of course never can become a motive to holiness of heart and life. No; terror of an endless hell produced this, and fear of future misery has become their mainspring of obedience. Hence the necessity of lashing their minds every night of the week with terror to keep them to their duty. But after all that can be done, such fears often wear off, and the persons return like the dog to his vomit, as ignorant of the grand truths of Christ's death and resurrection and the hope inspired by them, as on the day they professed to be converted. It is so far well, if they do not become twofold more the children of hell than they were before, and greater enemies to the gospel of Christ.
It is a very obvious fact, that in the apostolic age all converts were made by the same doctrine; nor did the apostles ever hold up hell torments to induce men to repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Nor was it any part of their work to publish a set of rules whereby revivals might be got up, or prescribe a course of exercises, by which persons might convert either themselves or others. No, the righteousness which is of faith, spoke a difserent language, as may be seen, Rom. 10: 6—14. It was what the person believed, which saved him, if he kept it in memory, and in this way he was cut off from glorying in himself, or despising others. His hope, joy and obedience depended on his abiding in the faith he had embraced, and the reason why others did not experience the same effects, was, they still abode in unbelief. The life of a Christian commenced by his faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and being baptised in his name, Rom. 6: 4–6. Col. 2: 10–14. His justification, peace with God, hope of future glory, and progress in the Christian course, entirely depended on holding fast
the faithful word, Rom. 4: 23–25. 5:1–10. 3:19– 31. Acts 13: 30–40. Rom.ch. 6, 8. Phil. 3: 10—21. Rom. 7: 4-6. He could no more make progress in the Christian life, if he lost sight of those grand truths, than a child can in reading, who forgets his alphabet. The love manifested in the death of Christ sweetly constrained to a new life, 2 Cor. 5: 14, 15. It led i he person to place his affections on things above, Col. 3: 1–4. Eph. 2: 6; and cheerfully to suffer afflictions for the gospel's sake, Heb. 13: 20. 1 Peter 3: 21, 22. 1 Cor. 4: 10—18. 15: 19. Acts 23: 6. 24: 1. 26: 8. 28: 20. Col. 1: 27. In short, he who held fast those grand truths continued in his course, and finished it with joy, 2 Tim. 4: 6–9. He who abandoned them gave up the whole of Christianity, and returned to the pleasures of sin for a season, 1 Cor. 15. 2 Tim. 2: 17, 18. 2 Peter 2: 20–22.
To conclude. No fact, since the world began, is attested with such evidence as the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Toit tbe mind of man is directed for a solid ground of hope beyond the grave, and until fixed on it, he only wanders in idle, endless speculations, ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
On the resurrection of Man from the dead.
JOB (14: 14) asks the question, “ if a man die shall he live again ?" But why ask such a question if he believed the moment a man died, his soul existed in a future state ? Dr. Good, quoted Essay i. sect. 3, contends that future existence in the book of Job is predicated, not on the immortality of the