« PreviousContinue »
festation, afforded in the glory of the human nature, of that divine majesty of Christ, which was previously veiled under the form of a servant. This is the mani. festation for which he prays, John xvii. 5.
vi. Further, as it was by different steps of humiliation, that he descended at length to the lowest depth of abasement; so it is also by several steps of exaltation, that he is advanced to the greatest height of glory. The four following steps are particularly enumerated in the Creed. First, HIS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. Secondly, His ASCENSION TO HEAVEN. Thirdly, His sitTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER. Fourthly, His comING AGAIN in the clouds of heaven TO THE GENERAL JUDGMENT; which will be the last and the most glorious act of his mediatorial office.
VII. The RESURRECTION of Christ, is the great support and foundation of our faith. “ If thou shalt “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt “ believe in thine heart that God hath raised him “ from the dead, thou shalt be saved."" Take away that pillar, and no part of the faith remains secure; all our hopes of salvation are entirely overthrown. “ If
Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in
your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in “ Christ, are perished.” 1
vIII. We are at present to speak of this raising of Christ from the dead; and propose to illustrate the four following heads. First, Its NATURE and MANNER. Secondly, Its TRUTH and CERTAINTY. Thirdly, Its NECESSITY. Fourthly, Its UTILITY.
k Rom. X. 9. VOL. II.
Ti Cor. xv. 17, 18.
IX. In order to understand rightly the NATURE of Christ's resurrection, it is necessary to attend to the following observations. 1st, That the body of Christ was preserved from all corruption in the grave, partly by his remaining in it for so short a period, partly by the virtue of the spices; but principally by the power of his divine nature, which, with singular vigilance, maintained it exempt from the least stain of putrefaction.m 2dly, That his soul, having been, at its departure from the body, commended to the Father and received into heaven, rested sweetly there, as in a paradise, from all its labours. 3dly, That at the appointed hour of revival, his lifeless body was, by the energy of the divine omnipotence, prepared in its bowels, blood, animal spirits, and other parts, so as to become a proper habitation for the soul; and the soul was at the same time recalled from heaven to inhabit and govern the body,—the natural and essential union of his soul and body being restored. Our Lord styles this the “ taking again,” the re-assumption, of his life.o 4thly, That both parts of his human nature were enriched and adorned with more excellent qualities, adapted to a new and spiritual life:—The soul with admirable light, resplendent purity, and inexpressible and glorious joy, arising from the ardent love of God, and a delightful sense of that love :—The body with a new accession of glory, being, from the moment of the resurrection, at least immortal,p and spiritual ;4 so that it no longer required the earthly functions of the animal, and was fitted for the pure and exalted offices of the celestial, life.
m Ps. xvi. 10.
n Luke xxii. 43, 46.
x. While Christ remained on the earth, however, his body was not advanced to that full perfection of glory, which it has possessed ever since its exaltation above the heavens. From condescension to the weakness of the disciples, he suffered it to be somewhat obscured, so as not visibly to shine forth in all its brightness, during the forty days he conversed with them. They must, otherwise, have been incapable of looking stedfastly upon him, and far less able to behold his splendour, than were the Israelites of old, to behold. the radiant face of Moses.
XI. It was another instance of kind and judicious condescension, that, with a view the more clearly to establish the certainty of his resurrection, he requested some food ;t and that the Apostles “ did eat and drink “ with him, after he rose from the dead.”u This must not be attributed to his body being then in a state of mortality, or to its standing in need of nourishment, but to the voluntary concealment of the rays of his glory. Augustine nobly says: “ To be incapable of "taking food, and to stand in need of food, would be equally an evidence of imperfection in the resurrec
tion-body. The parched earth swallows up water, in “a manner very different from that in which it is swal" lowed up by the burning rays of the sun. The one “ does it from need, the other, by power.”* His design is to show, that our Lord's eating after his resurrection, was an evidence, not of weakness, but of power; and that the food was not digested in the stomach, but absorbed, as moisture is absorbed by the heat of the sun.
· Philip. iii. 21.
: 2 Cor. iii. 7.
XII. It was no dishonour, besides, to the body of Christ, that after the resurrection it bore visible marks of his wounds in his hands, feet, and side; nor will it disgrace it in the least, if he shall be pleased to bear them on the great day of final judgment: For those marks are indications of his glorious triumph over death, as a conquered enemy.
xi. The Cause of the resurrection of Christ, is, in general, God; as we are informed in many passages of Scripture. Sometimes, however, it is ascribed particularly to the Father, as in the following words : “ The “ God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,” displayed “ the working of bis mighty power in Christ, “ when he raised him from the dead."w But elsewhere it is attributed to the Son himself;x and not without reason: “ For as the Father hath life in himself, so “ hath he given to the Son, to have life in himself.”, The same Divine essence is common to both,—that ever living, ever active essence, which is the source of all the life that all other living beings enjoy, and in particular, of the blessed life possessed by a nature so closely united to the divinity.
xiv. It cannot admit of a doubt, that the same lifegiving power, which belongs to the Father and the Son, belongs also to the Holy Spirit. Yet I do not recollect of reading in Scripture, that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, raised Christ from the dead. In Rom. viii. 11, it is not ascribed to the Holy Spirit, but to Him whose Spirit dwelleth in us, namely, the Father. In 1 Pet. iii. 18, Christ is indeed said to be“ quickened by the Spirit;" but since “ the Spirit”
Acts ïi. 24. ii. 15. iv. 10. Rom. x. 9, &c.
is there opposed to “ the flesh,” it is more proper to understand it of Christ's divine nature, which possesses “ the power of an endless life.”z 30
The phrase "jus" tified in the Spirit,”a is of the same import; and so, too, is the expression, “ declared to be the Son of God “ with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by
the resurrection from the dead.” But, since at the very beginning of the world, the Holy Spirit cherished the rude mass of matter by moving upon it, since he is expressly called “ the Spirit of life,”d and since God shall quicken our mortal bodies by him, it would be totally unreasonable to represent the resurrection of Christ as accomplished without the power and energy of the Holy Spirit.
xv. Our Lord's resurrection, it is worthy of notice, is much more frequently spoken of, as effected by the Father, than by Christ himself. For this, two reasons may be given. First, That the Father's calling of Christ to glory might not be obscured; for it became him not to take this honour to himself, that though once dead, he should become alive for evermore, and be the Prince of life; but being " called,” to receive it from him who said, “Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee.”f Secondly, that it might be manifest, that this glory of a new life is assigned to him justly, and in conformity with his own merit, by the sentence of the Father ; who justifies him, and adjudges to him a glorious re
: Heb. vii. 16.
a 1 Tim. iii. 16. 5 Kατα πνεύμα αγιωσύνης, Rom. i 4. “ I choose rather,” our Au. thor adds, “ to render it Sanctimoniæ, of holiness, than Sanctifica« tionis, of sanctification. The Greek word for sanctification is “áyizouos." See Beza's version, Rom. l. 4. T. e Gen. i. 2.
d Rom. viii. 2. e Verse 11.
f Heb. v. 4, 5. 30 See Note XXX.