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that he was "with the rich in his death." It was not the will of God that his dear Son should be buried in that disgraceful manner which his enemies intended; though a grave was appointed for him with the wicked, yet this appointment was overruled by the providence of God, who raised up one rich and honourable person to provide the tomb, and another to assist him in the funeral of our blessed Redeemer.

The reason of this honourable funeral of the Lord Jesus seems to be added by the Prophet: it was "because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." Jesus had not only done nothing worthy of death, but his very nature was without spot of sin. He was not only righteous in the eye of the law, but perfectly so in the sight of his heavenly Father; and therefore, when he suffered for us sinners, it was fit that it should be understood, that he himself was not a sinner, and that he should lie under no farther disgrace than what was absolutely necessary in making atonement for sin. Now, when Jesus spake these memorable words, "It is finished!" and immediately after expired on the cross, he had suffered all that was necessary to make that atonement; and, therefore, though his body was to be laid in the grave (which is part of the original sentence denounced against sin), yet it was to be interred with no marks of disgrace, but, on the contrary, with tokens of honour, respect, and affection. His being honourably buried was some testimony, that he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth," as it evidently showed what the true judgment of unprejudiced persons was concerning him. Joseph of Arimathea, by going to Pilate to request the body of Jesus, and then burying it with honour in his own tomb, testified that in his judgment Jesus had been unjustly condemned and executed,

and that he was worthy of all honour, affection, and respect. Pilate, by granting the body, showed that he thought our Lord an innocent person, as he had repeatedly testified; and Nicodemus, who came with a costly present of spices to embalm the body, declared the high regard which he had for the crucified Redeemer. Every circumstance in our Lord's burial was honourable to him, and all together were a testimony that " he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." Thus Jesus, though he died as a malefactor, was buried as one who had done nothing amiss; he was laid in a new tomb where no man had been laid before, as a mark of peculiar respect to him, and as some testimony to the holiness and innocence of his sacred character.

The grave is the house appointed for all living: it was fit that Jesus should be honourably interred, and it is proper that the survivors of departed friends should provide for their decent interment so far as circumstances will permit. But with regard to our bodies, it matters not whether they lie in common graves, or in costly sepulchres; wherever they lie, "the worm shall feed sweetly on them," and therefore we need not be anxious in this matter. But O that we may be anxiously concerned about our immortal souls! Where shall they be when our bodies are laid in the grave? Shall they be with the wicked, or shall they be with Jesus? What is our present state? For, according to our character here will be our portion hereafter. We know not how soon the grave may be opened to receive our bodies; O then that we may live as dying men in a dying world! Can we think of this, and waste our precious time, be unconcerned about our future state, and triflè with our immortal souls? Is any one living at a distance from God, without faith in Christ, and uncon

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cerned about his soul? Let him think where his everlasting portion must be if he dies in that state: his grave will be made with the wicked; and not only his grave, but his everlasting state beyond the grave. It was the prayer of David, Gather not my soul with sinners," Psalm xxvi. 9; but if the soul would not be gathered with sinners hereafter, it must be separated from them here by divine grace, for no unconverted sinner can look forward to the grave with comfort or with hope. Yet this is the end of all men, whether they think of it or not; the worldly man may turn his thoughts from the subject, and seek by business or pleasure to put it out of his mind, but he cannot put off the hour when his body shall return to the dust, nor look forward to that hour with any comfort, until his heart is renewed by the grace of God, and he is made a new creature in Christ Jesus.

But when the soul is truly converted to God the grave will lose its terrors, for Jesus has sanctified it to his people by lying in it him self. There is not a more consoling thought to the believer in Jesus when looking forward to death and the grave than this, that Jesus himself lay therein; that he not only died for us upon the cross, but that he lay for us in the grave, and by his lying there that he has sanctified the grave to all believers. The dying Christian may say, It is true I am going to the grave, for that is the house appointed for all living; but it is the house where Jesus lay himself, and I trust he will be with me when I am laid in the grave, that he will receive my soul when separated from the body, and watch over my scattered dust and raise it again at the last day. Nature, indeed, shrinks back at the thought."If I wait," said Job, "the grave is my house: I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, Thou art AUGUST 1823.

my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister." Job, xvii. 13, 14. But grace teaches the believer to triumph over death and the grave, and to say with the Apostle, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. xv. 55

57. If Christ be with us, we need not fear death and the grave. When Jesus lay in it, his flesh rested in hope; "his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption." Acts, ii. 31. And if we have a true and lively faith in him, our flesh shall also rest in hope; and though our bodies must see corruption, yet they shall be raised again incorruptible, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality." 1 Cor. xv. 53. We need not, therefore, be anxious about our mortal bodies, but it should be our heart's desire and prayer that our souls may be found in Christ; that we may" win Christ and be found in him;” that we may be raised from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, and walk by faith and not by sight, "looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. iv. 18): that we be separated by grace from the ungodly here, that we may not have our everlasting portion with them hereafter; and above all, that our hope of everlasting life beyond the grave be founded only on what Christ our Saviour has done and suffered for us, whilst we are followers of Him who did "no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." So shall we have a good hope through grace, that our sins being laid on him upon the cross, are buried with him in the grave,

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and that we being raised to newness of life by his grace here, shall be raised by his power to everlasting glory hereafter. For, "if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that

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FAMILY Acts, ix. 31. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

THE church of Christ on earth may be compared to a company of travellers who have to pursue their journey under a changeable sky, and amidst every variety of seasons and weather. At one time they are assailed by the pelting storms of persecution; at another they enjoy the calm sunshine of peace and prosperity. Yet amidst all these vicissitudes they are not forsaken by their heavenly Guide, under whose providential direction they are walking, and by whose spiritual grace every outward change is made to work for their good. Are they called to endure the opposition and hatred of the world? such a trial tends to rouse and awaken the slumbering believer, to quicken the loiterer, and to shake off the multitude of fairweather Christians, by whose inconsistencies the company of true pilgrims is dishonoured. If, on the other hand, a time of trouble be succeeded by days of security and ease to the church, this also cometh forth from the Lord, and may be made the means of helping forward the Christian on his journey.

The benefits which may be derived by true believers from a season of quietness and rest, are represented in a very striking manner in my text. Our present cireumstances in this Christian land,

raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Rom. viii. 11. LITOREUS.

SERMON.

In

render this subject peculiarly appropriate, and capable of yielding us much profitable instruction. order that we may learn our own duty, let us notice,

CIRCUM

I. THE OUTWARD STANCES of the Christian Church, at the period here described; and,

II. THE SPIRITUAL IMPROVEMENT which was made of these circumstances.

I. We are to notice the OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES of the primitive Christians, at the time to which my text refers. "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Šamaria.”

A church, in Scripture language, means a company of real believers in Christ Jesus; and the expression is applied both to the whole collective body of Christians throughout the world, and to every distinct congregation. Even a single family of believers is sometimes called a church. Now, through the preaching of the twelve Apostles, many families, many congregations of men, in Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, had been converted to the faith of Christ. They had renounced their evil ways; they sought for salvation only through faith in his atoning blood; they met together to hear the word, and to offer up supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks; and they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship. Thus they shined as lights in a dark world, reproving both by their doctrine and example all who continued in unbelief. What was the immediate consequence? Many spoke evil of that

way before the multitude; others, being men in authority, attempted to suppress the preaching of the Gospel; and at length a bitter persecution arose; in which neither age, nor rank, nor sex were spared. Such Christians as were able fled for their lives; others were cruelly tortured, not accepting deliverance, and died gloriously as martyrs to the faith of Jesus.

One of the most active agents in these bloody scenes obtained from the Jewish rulers a special commission, authorizing him to pursue the fugitive Christians into distant countries, and give them their choice either to blaspheme Christ or to suffer death. How wonderful are the ways of God! This very man, in the full tide of his rage and fury, is suddenly arrested by a voice from heaven-beholds Jesus standing at the right hand of God-is charged with his crime-can make no defence-and is led away, not to execution, as he had just cause to expect, but to be made a chosen vessel; to bear the name of Christ before the Gentiles, and kings, and the people of Israel. And now the persecutor becomes in his turn the persecuted. Enraged at the loss of their champion, and resolved not to receive his testimony concerning Jesus, the chief priests and rulers direct all their malice against St. Paul. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Thus baffled and disappointed, the enemies of the church seem for a while to have paused in their career. Perhaps they were content to have got rid of a man, who, they had reason to fear, would prove a most able defender of the faith which he had so zealously laboured to destroy. Perhaps they were become weary of threatening and slaughter, on finding that the work of the Lord was not easily and at once to be overthrown. Whatever might be their motives, He who can make

even the wrath of man to praise him, and then restrain the remainder of their wrath; He who kept the lions' mouths that they should not hurt his prophet Daniel; He without whom not a sparrow falleth to the ground, and in whose sight his faithful people are of more value than many sparrows; He it was who saw good at this time to check the persecutors of his churches. He said, "Hitherto shall ye come and no further, and here shall your proud waves be stayed." Then, and therefore, had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria. The wind and the storm ceased, and there was a great calm.

It is our privilege, my Christian brethren, to enjoy a similar freedom from persecution. In this our peaceful land, the same cruelties were formerly committed against the people of God, as those under which the early Christians groaned. When first the true religion was introduced here, it set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes were those of his own household. Nay, the brother would deliver up his brother to death, and the father the son. Christians were hated of all men, and all manner of evil was spoken and done against them for Jesus' name's sake. This, I doubt not, was the case when Christianity first came to England. It was the case again about three hundred years ago, when it pleased God to give us the blessed Reformation from Popery. It is scarcely possible for us to realize the fiery trials which the faithful Christians were exposed to in those days, when they resisted unto blood, striving against the abominations of the unchristian church. Now from all this we are mercifully delivered. True Christianity is established and protected by the laws of the land. No man can be

openly persecuted, in the degree and manner of which we have been speaking; if he be, the law provides full redress. His person, his life, his property, are now secure. What, then! is the offence of the cross ceased? is the world now reconciled to those who, by their life and doctrine, reprove and condemn it? No, by no means. The original enmity still subsists between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. But, for a season, the providence of God has restrained the outward actings of their enmity. He has, in this happy country, given his churches rest from all their enemies round about. The storms of persecution have subsided; and the Christians of England have been for many years in a state of outward rest and peace, resembling that of the Judean, Galilean, and Samaritan churches.

Perhaps also, O believer, thou hast at this time rest from that more tolerable persecution which has often assailed thee among thy neighbours; the scourge of the tongue, hard names, injurious reports, bitter revilings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth: the enmity of the carnal mind will never indeed be wholly silent, if thou be faithful and consistent, reproving its deeds, and setting it the example of a more excellent way. Wicked men must either receive the truth or hate it. Nevertheless, even this trial has perhaps to thee been mitigated, or even suspended for a season. Thy neighbours, thy relations, or thy superiors, have perhaps been influenced to acknowledge thy sincerity, and to let thee go on thy way in quietness. Well, remember to see the hand of God in this. Let not thy present outward peace make thee careless and slothful. Do not lie down and bask in the sunshine, which is given to cheer thee on thy journey. This is not thy place of rest. The

sky may soon again be overcast, and the clouds and tempests return; God may shortly cease to restrain the malice of the enemy, and send among us not peace but a sword. Or, what will be far more perilous, he may be provoked by our love of outward ease, to give us into the hand of our spiritual enemies. Too often, indeed, Christians have fallen asleep, when there was no persecution to keep them awake, and have slumbered on till they made shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience. There are dangers on every side. Not without reason, therefore, doth our Church instruct us to pray, in all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth, "Good Lord, deliver us!"

But, as every state has its peculiar snares, so are there also special advantages to be derived both from times of suffering and from times of peace. It will, therefore, be instructive to notice,

II. The SPIRITUAL IMPROVEMENT which the early Christians made of their freedom from persecution. My text informs us, that when the churches had rest, they were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

1. First we are told, in a general way, that they were edified. This expression is taken from the art of building; and it agrees with those passages of Scripture in which the church of Christ is compared to a temple, built by the power of God, wherein spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving are continually offered up to him. In other places, the church is called a house, in which God by his Spirit delights to dwell. And what is said of the church at large, is true of each individual member thereof. Every broken and contrite heart is God's temple; every renewed soul is his habitation. The work of divine grace begins to be builded, when the sinner is brought to see his

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