larly with regard to the doctrine of original sin, derived from Adam, and the salvation by Christ, his priesthood, his royalty, and the use and benefit of afflictions ; Heb. xi. xii. &c. Our resurrection from the dead, and our eternal happiness; 1 Cor. xv. and 1 Thess. iv. and many others?

And of how great advantage is it to us, that St. Paul has foretold in plain language, the rise and characters of Antichrist; 2 Thess. ii. 3-12. and the destruction of that state, to forewarn us, and to give us comfortable hopes and expectations. It is matter therefore of great and heavenly importance, for us christians to be well established in the belief of St. Paul's conversion, his faith, and his apostleship, and for this end we shall do well to remember these proofs and arguments which convinced him that Jesus was risen from the dead. Other holy writers have told us more of the life, actions, death, and resurrection of Christ, in the particular circumstances thereof: but St. Paul has told us more of the blessed consequences of these transactions. And let it be always kept in mind by us, that he was in a special manner the apostle to the Gentile nations, of which Great-Britain is a large province, and a remarkable part ; so that in his writings he speaks directly to us, and we are bound to attend to him.

3. It is very reasonable to conclude, we may safely believe what St. Paul believed and taught about this subject of the resurrection of Christ. For if we have but reason to believe that this was Paul's character, faith and practice, and these are the reasons of his belief, what should discourage or stagger us -Let us sum up the force of this argument and put it together.

Here is a wise, learned, sincere, honest man, bred up a Pharisee in a strong opposition to Christ, and thie doctrine of his resurrection, zealous for another religion, even the religion of his fathers and his country, who yet saw reason to renounce all his ancient prejudices, and submit to receive this new and strange doctrine, who believed and professed this gospel, which he once grievously persecuted, and afterwards preached it, with much fatigue, danger and suffering, supported it with courage, and constant divine zeal and piety, and the practice of every virtue; through his whole life, gloried in his perpetual sufferings for it, lived upon the comforts derived from it, died in defence of it, and sealed it with his blood, and left it as a chief treasure to those whom he loved best in this world, even to the churches of Christ.

Now we have not this account of Paul from mere hearsay and tradition, but we have his own testimony to all this in his writings, which have been delivered down to us through many ages: and no man of sense can reasonably doubt whether they are his writings or no, any more than we can doubt the writings of Julius

Cæsar, or Seneca, Livy, or Virgil

. I add this further : Concerning the vigour and spirit of his writings, and the force of argument contained in them, we have the testimony of some of his greatest adversaries, as he himself represents the case. His letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; and he was not ashamed to appeal to themselves, and threaten them, that he would make it appear that his practice towards them should have as much force and power as his letters had, when he came the second time to visit them; 2 Cor. x. 10, 11. And we have the testimony of two others, particularly Luke the physician, in his history of the Acts of the Apostles, who was a fellow-traveller with him; and Peter, who was another of his countrymen, in his epistles, bears witness to him and to his writings : besides the testimony of all the christian writers from the beginning of christianity ; 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16. Which writings of St. Paul are dignified by St. Peter himself, with the name of the scriptures, ver. 16. they being both men inspired by God, and of chief repute among the apostles.

I proceed now to enquire, what were these blessed effects on men in the heathen world, whereby Paul's doctrine of the resurrection of Christ was further confirmed and established.

And here I might talk largely of the idolaters, that were turned from their superstitions to the worship and love of the true God, of their abandoning their former vices, and the superstitions and sinful customs of their nations, and the reformation of their lives and manners, to goodness and holiness, &c. but I shall confine myself only to those effects which bear a more apparent relation to the resurrection of Christ; and such are these that follow : (viz.)

1. How many dead sinners were made alive to God, and virtue, piety and universal holiness, by preaching this doctrine of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? What encouragement for hope of pardon for the worst of sinners, in this blessed doctrine of a dying and a rising Saviour? What an assurance of full atonement made to the justice of God, in that Jesus. who, in death, took our sins upon him, is now discharged from the dead, and his dismission from the grave is a full token and proof of it. He died for our offences, and rose again for our justification; Rom. iv. 25.

If Christ be yet under the pain of death, as the apostle argues, 1 Cor. xv. 17. and be not risen, then our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins: But if he be risen, then our faith and hope are confirmed, and our sins are atoned for, and our souls are pardoned, if we trust in him.

O how many guilty consciences are made easy, and that upon solid grounds, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? He is * God of peace, and reconciled to sinners, who brought Jesus Christ 3. Let us remember, that whatsoever advantages or blessings we can derive from the death of Christ, they all depend on his resurrection. His being dead will be of no avail to our souls ; either for pardon, or sanctification, or future happiness, unless he be risen again ; 1 Cor. xv. 14, 17. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching cuin, and your faith is also rain-ye are yet


sins. Rom. iv. 25. Jesus who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. When we meditate on a dying Saviour in any of his ordinances, let us remember, the Lord is risen; he hath fulfilled that dreadful atonement for sin in his death; he is accepted of his Father, and he has thereby manifested, that there is a way opened for the pardon of sin, and our salvation. He hath conquered death and the devil; he hath laid a foundation for our rising from the grave; he will fulfil in heaven what he hath begun on earth : his throne shall consummate the work of his cross. If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son ; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life; Rom. v. 18.

4. If Jesus being dead, and alive again, is so momentous a point, so important an article in our religion, then we may remark, that some of the chief evidences of the truth of our religion, are nearly connected with some of the chief glories, benefits, and excellencies of it; for they are all built on this same foundation, even the resurrection of our blessed Lord. These are not merely strange pieces of history, but such doctrines are built on them, which are the life of our souls.

The resurrection of Christ confirms our religion : First, As it gives sufficient proof that God, whose prerogative it is to raise from the dead, approves what Jesus taught: And Secondly, As Jesus Christ himself foretold his own resurrection ; as I said before. And it lays a foundation for some of the chief doctrines, blessings, and duties of our religion which St. Paul preaches without end; viz. our trust in this risen Saviour, our faith in his intercession in heaven, and coming to God by him ; our dependance on his government, our resignation of ourselves to him, our expectations of the Holy Spirit, and his graces, from him ; our courage in death, and our joyful hope of a resurrection and eternal life.

5. What continual matter for holy meditation should these two things furnish us with, viz. the death and resurrection of Christ, especially in all our addresses to God? Heb. x. 19. and iv. 11. How delightful and encouraging are these ideas, in all our sacred and religious transactions with God, in life and in death. lle hare boldness to enter into the most holy place by the blood of Jesus, and have such an High-Priest orér the house of God 10 introduce us. How divinely agreeable in all our behaviour, in onr conversation in this world ; Gal. vi. 11. By the death of Christ we are dead lo this world, by the death of Christ crucified to it, and the world crucified to us. Col. ii. 1. We should live as those who are above, whose hearts are on high, where Christ is at the right-hand of God. Under our carnality and earthlymindedness, let us govern ourselves by these meditations. Let us remember we are dead to sin. Under all our temptations to sin; Rom. vi. 2. let us be upon our guard, remembering our being united to Christ; in his death and his life.

If at any time we fall under doubts of the truth of our religion, let us look up to a risen Jesus. What better supports can we have under all our afflictions, sorrows, fears, weaknesses? Rev. i. 18. He who was dead, is alive, and lives for evermore. Amen. Under the apprehensions of death ; 1 Cor. xv. 57. Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory over death and the grave by a living Christ.

O what a shame is it for professors of a dying and a risen Saviour to be dead-hearted in religion, which is our sublimest hope ; to be carnally minded, or to be afraid of death?

6. If Jesus being dead, and being alive again is so great and important an article of our religion, and as it were the foundation on which it stands, then how wisely hath he ordered it in his gospel, that we should have a constant memorial appointed us both of his death and his resurrection? Of his death in the Lord's-supper; 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25. and of his resurrection in the Lord's-day; Rev. i. 10. it is the rising of Christ that gives a blessed pame to this day ; Acts xx. 7. John xx. 19, 20. i Cor. xvi. 2. On the first day of the week Christ appears in his holy ordinances, and saith, Peace be unto you, as he did to the apostles.

The primitive christians celebrated both these institutions on every first day of every week, that is, the christian sabbath, and the Lord's-supper. We all agree to celebrate one of these, viz. bis resurrection, every week on the first day; but how few are there that celebrate the memorial of his death in a constant attendance at the Lord's-supper, in comparison of the multitudes who call themselves christians ? O let us take pleasure in these sacred memorials, and practise them both with steadiness and constancy, in remembrance of Jesus, who was dead, and is alive.

Let us remember at the Lord's-supper a dying Saviour, and call to inind the great designs of his death, as many as we can, viz. to witness the truth of his gospel ; to fulfil ancient predictions of his death and his resurrection ; to teach us to die as an example; but above all, to make atonement for our sins, and lay a foundation for pardoning grace, and our hope of acceptance with God. Let us remember every Lord's-day to raise our thoughits to the heavenly world: where Jesus is at the Father's right-hand; Col. iji. 1, 2.

7. Let us reflect on this delightful circumstance of our own death, and the new life of Christ, that, in both these, he was our Pattern and Forerunner; 2 Tim. ii. 8, 10-13. If we die with him we shall also live with him ; Heb. vi. 20. Must we lie down in death? Jesus, the Son of God, went through the dark valley before us, and lay down in the grave, and sanctified it to us for a sleeping place ; 1 Thess. iv. 13-18. His death was attended with much more terror from God and man than ours is or can be. His death hath taken away the sting from ours. Did Jesus rise again from the dead? So shall we, if we are his sincere followers. He is vur head, the first-born from the dead ; Col. i. 15. and our example. Rom. viii

. 11. The same spirit shall quicken us, whatsoever nation we ļived in, Rome or Jerusalem, Asia or Corinth, or Great Britain, or in what age soever! I Cor. xv. 20, 23, 49, 2 Cor. iv. 14. And it will be a divine joy to meet holy Paul, our great apostle and our teacher among the holy saints, who has gone through so many deaths and dangers, to acquaint us with this gospel.

Was it so strange a thing to tell us, that one dead man even Jesus, should be alive again after his death? How strange and glorious a sight will it be, when all the dead in Christ, thousands and ten thousands, shall be made alive, with their Lord Jesus at the head of them. Rejoice for ever in the Lord, and comfort yourselves with this divine consolation, Amen.

« ElőzőTovább »