« ElőzőTovább »
Romans iv. 25. Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again
for our justification. THE manner of expression here used is different from what is generally to be met with in other parts of the New Testament upon the like occasion. Here we are told that Christ was delivered for our offences, and raised for our justification ; as if the remission of our fins was to be ascribed peculiarly to the passion, and our justification in the fight of God to the resurrection of Christ : whereas in the chapter before this, ver. 25, the Apostle tells us in general, that God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood; and in ch. v. ver. 9, particularly and expressly, that, being juftified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him; and ver. 10, that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son. In the twentieth of the Acts, the Apostle, in his exhortation to the elders of the church, warns them to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood, ver. 28. To the same purpose both St. Peter and St. John speak; the one telling us, that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all fin, i John i. 7; the other, that we have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, i Pet. i. 19.
It is the constant tenor of Scripture, that atonement for the fins of the world was made by our great High Priest upon the cross; that his death was our redemption, and his blood the price paid for us. So that, when we consider the redemption (which includes our justification) with respect to Christ, the author and finisher of it, it must be afcribed to his death and passion : but, as to ourselves, our title and interest in this common salvation being grounded on faith, our justification though purchased by the blood of Christ, must be appropriated to ourselves through faith in that blood : for the same Apostle, who has told us that we are justified freely through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, hath likewise told us that God hath set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood. For this reason we are said to be justified by faith ; not that our faith is the purchase of justification, which we owe to the blood of Christ alone; but because through faith we obtain the benefit of the redemption wrought by Christ Jesus. Now, though the death of Christ was the reconciling of the world to God, yet the resurrection of Christ is the great and solid foundation of our hope and faith in him, even of our faith in his blood, by which he made the propitiation for our fins : and therefore, although Christ died for our offences, and by his precious blood made atonement for our fins; yet, since our faith in his death, our hope in his blood, by which hope and faith we are justified, are built upon the truth and credit of his. resurrection, it is very properly said, that he role again for our justification : for the death of Christ
would have been no justification to us, nor could we have had hope or faith in it, but for the power and glory of the resurrection ; which has wiped away the scandal and ignominy of the cross, and made it a rational act of faith to hope for life and immortality from him, who himself once died upon the tree.
For the truth of this exposition I appeal to St. Paul, who, i Cor. xv. 17, has told us, that, if Christ be not risen, our faith is vain; we are yet in our sins, So that faith in the death of Christ, not grounded on the assurance of his resurrection, is a vain faith, and such an one as cannot deliver us from our sins. Nay, that the death of Christ could not have been a propitiation for fin without his resurrection, he expressly teaches in the next verse, saying, that, if Christ be not raised, then they also, which are fallen asleep in Chrift, are perished.
The power of the resurrection, together with the atonement for sin made by the death of Christ, is very beautifully expressed by St. Paul, Rom. viii. 34: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercellion for us. The death of Christ freed us from condemnation; but then was our freedom made manifest, when he came from the grave in triumph, and led captivity captive; when he ascended to the right hand of his Father to be our perpetual High Priest and Mediator: for, as the Apostle argues, if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, jall we be saved by his life; i. e. by his resurrection to life and to glory. This account, as it gives the true interpretation of the text, so likewise does it thew of what great moment the resurrection of our Lord was, which was to be the bafis and support of the whole Chriftian inftitution, and the ground of our hope and faith in him. That Christ died the death of a common malefactor, after a life spent in innocency, and a constant and laborious teaching of the great duties of religion and morality, was but common to him, and others before him, whom God had raised up to be shining lights of the world. Thus the prophets of old were persecuted and destroyed by fundry kinds of death: but in their blood there was no expiation for fin: the blood of Abel and of the prophets spoke no such language, but cried to God for vengeance against a cruel and a guilty world. Had Christ died like one of them, and been no more heard of, how should we have believed that his death had atoned for all the rest of the blood that had been spilt from the foundation of the world? or that the whole earth had obtained remiffion of fin from God by destroying one more, and him the greatest of all the prophets, in the most cruel manner? But, when our Lord rose from the grave, and brought back with him the pardon which he had sealed with his own blood; when, instead of executing wrath upon his enemies, he sent again the offer of peace and reconciliation, and took upon himself to be their Mediator and Intercessor, as he had already been their Sacrifice; what room was there to doubt of the efficacy of his death, the efficacy of which was so undeniably confirmed by his resurrection or what reason to mistrust the falva.