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contracted by sin ;-—that he might adorn thee with the fine linen of his own righteousness, clean and white;—that he might beautify thee with garments of wrought gold, and deck thee with an ornament of grace composed of the Christian virtues as of so many pearls ;-—and that he might present thee thus arrayed to his God and Father, having at the same time expiated the guilt of that extravagant fondness for gaudy apparel, to which, according to the fashion of this world, thou wast formerly addicted.a
LXVIII. Further, the ignominious tree of the cross is the height of thy glory, the support of thy weakness, the ladder of paradise, and “ the tree of life, which bears “ twelve manner of fruits, and yields her fruit every “ month, and whose leaves are for the healing of the “ nations.”e Here, the iniquity of the whole earth was removed in one day. Here, liberty worthy of the sons of God was procured. Here, the hand-writing of ordinances which was against us, was torn in pieces, and taken out of the way, and then nailed to the cross. Here, “ having spoiled principalities and powers, he “ made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them “ in it." Here, here, the afflicted soul finds that which sweetens the waters of her tribulation, although they seem to flow from the well of Marah itself. In one word, he delivered us from every curse, he loaded us with
every kind of blessings, when he was suspended on the tree, and made the curse of God for us.i
LXIX. Add to this, that Christ was surrounded with
Rev. üi. 18.
1 Pet. ii. 24.
A Rev. xix. 8.
a GUARD of soldiers, as of so many dogs, that he might obtain cohorts of angels for thy defence, j and might himself keep thee, by the guard of his power, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. You are exposed, we admit, to cruel mockings, to numerous indignities, and to the reproaches of virulent tongues, by which it is not unlikely that your resolution may sometimes be shaken, and your faith and hope waver for a season ; but behold in Christ, all your trials of this sort foreshown, sanctified, and for your sake overcome. Only let it not seem grievous to thee, to be conformed to Jesus in this as well as in other respects: and learn from him to repel and extinguish all such fiery darts by silence, faith, and patience,-relying on the word of God, leaning on that hope which will never make ashamed, and assuring thyself that Christ, who was himself tried in the same manner with thee, will act the part of a “merciful and faithful Highpriest.”
Lxx. Consider, in fine, the DEATH of Christ, and see in it, 1st, The expiation of thy sin. For he made " his soul an offering for sin,” “ to finish the trans
gression, to make an end of sin, to make reconcilia“tion for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.”n
“ As it is appointed unto men once to “ die, so also Christ was once offered to bear,” to take upon himself and thus to take away, “ the sins of “many."
LXXI. 2dly, See the death of thy death.P Death
į Ps. xxxiv. 7.
1 Pet. i. 5. 1 Heb. ii. 17, 18.
m Is. liii. 10. n Dan. ix. 24. ο “Εις το πολλών ανενεγκεϊν αμαρτιας, Heb. ix. 27, 28. p Heb. ii. 14, 15.
imagined that he would utterly swallow up Christ; but by a surprising reverse, death himself was, by the dying Redeemer, “swallowed up in victory.”! Christ was to death a worm, by which the monster, with extreme avidity swallowing at once, so to speak, the worm and the hook, miserably perished. He was poison, which death no sooner drank than he felt, so to speak, the sorrows and pains of child-birth; nor could he retain him, or be at ease, till Christ rose again from the sepulchre, and became “ the First-begotten of the “ dead."! He was a solid rock, on which death having fixed his sting and dashed his teeth, quite lost the power to sting and to bite. In fine, “he abolished
death;"s he rendered it feeble and ineffective, * so that whatever efforts this tyrant, when raging with redoubled fury in the final conflict, may make against the saints, they are without effect. To believers death is not that which it is in itself, the punishment of sin denounced by the curse of the law; but the termination of sin and of all their sorrows, and an entrance into life eternal,t an event to be desired rather than dreaded.
Death, we confess, retains its name;
Ordain'd to give him sweet repose." LXXII. Luther, in a letter to Hardmannus a Cronbergh, has the following animated expressions : • They often threaten us with death, and with present “ ruin. But if they were as much distinguished for “ wisdom as they surpass every one in folly, they ought
+ Nomina mors retinet, facilis sunt cætera somnus. 41 Cor. xv. 54.
r Rev. i. 5. Katugmaony. 2 Tim. i. 10.
John v. 24.
really to threaten us with life. A truly ridiculous " sort of menaces and terrors, as if they could deter " Christ and his people from their purpose by the fear “ of death; while Christians are the conquerors of death " through Christ, who vanquished and triumphed over " the king of terrors, and exhibited a trophy of his victory to all his followers. Those men, in reality, discover " the same egregious madness, as if I should intend to “ intimidate a person by bringing forth his horse sad" dled and bridled, that he might take a ride.” And a little after ; “ Since the present life which we live in " the flesh, is always exposed to sin, the approaches and
stain of which, owing to the flesh which is our constant “ companion, it cannot avoid,—the new creature form"ed by the Spirit cries out within us, with unutter" able groanings, Make haste, O Death, let my last
day upon earth, which is to put an end to death and "sin, speedily arrive. Amen.”
LXXIII. 3dly, Behold the confirmation of the New Testament. The Old Testament was confirmed by the blood of victims sprinkled on the altar, the book of the covenant, and the people of Israel. But as the New Testament far excels the Old, it was proper that it should be ratified by much nobler blood, even the blood of the Son of God, dying as a Testator for the confirmation of his Testament.v * Not that by his death he made void his own right to the inheritance ; for he soon rose again to live for ever as the eternal possessor of his own goods; but he died to render the promises of the Testament sure and irrevocable. The rending
* See Vol. I. Note XLII.
of the vail, which happened at the death of Christ, was an emblem of this, and served to show that the handwriting which was contrary to us was cancelled; and that the wall, which had divided the Israelites from the Gentiles, and had in some respect separated believers themselves from God, was broken down. w
LXXIV. Collect now all that has been said into one point, and learn how deeply you are indebted to Christ. Imagine yourself present with him in Golgotha, a spectator of his unparalleled abasement, and addressed by the dying Redeemer in the following pathetic terms: “O man, whoever thou art, behold me with deep at“ tention, and with the eye of a stedfast faith. See in
my body the marks of the cruel scourge. See me ig“ nominiously expelled from Jerusalem, and now sus
pended on that cross which I lately bore. Behold “me naked, who was born of a Virgin, and have been
always a pattern of perfect modesty. Observe my " hands and my feet, signalized by the glory of so many “ extraordinary miracles, now transfixed with nails. “ Hear the revilings, the taunts, the blasphemies, which “ I patiently suffer from cruel and insolent mockers. “ Know thou, that I, who might have enjoyed all the
glories and pleasures of the celestial life, undergo " these sufferings from pure and disinterested love to " thee; that thou mightest be delivered from the
righteous vengeance of God, and from the power of “ the Devil, and enjoy everlasting felicity. And shall " it now seem grievous to thee, to abandon the proud “ Babel of this world, and associate with the assembly
of my humble followers; to bear thy cross in imita“ tion of me; to remove far from thee the prodigious
* Ephes. ii. 11-16.