« PreviousContinue »
under the power of death which is the wages of sin, what evidence could we have that his sacrifice was satisfactory? His remaining in the prison of the grave would have shewn that he was unable to pay the debt, and that justice was still arresting him for a farther demand. But by his rising from the dead we see him obtaining a full discharge, and justice acquitt ing him from all farther claims. In this fact we see the utmost boundary of the divine displeasure against sin, and judgment returning unto righteousness in acquitting him; for he was brought again from the dead by the merits of that very blood of the everlasting covenant which he shed for the remission of sins, Heb. xiii. 20. Christ's resur
nesses he shewed himself alive after his passion, being seen of them forty days, during which he demonstrated to them, by evidence the most incontestible, the reality of his resurrection; so that, in giving their testimony of this important fact, they attested only that which they had heard, which they had seen with their eyes, which they had looked upon, and their hands had handled of the word of life.” 1 John i. 1. All professed Christians, indeed, admit the truth of the doctrine, that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures; but very few, comparatively speaking, fully understand the scriptural import of this doctrine, and therefore cannot be supposed to be properly acquaint-rection was not only an act of ed with its chearing and sanctifying influence! Let us, therefore, attempt a short illustration of it under the following particulars.
almighty power, but of justice or equity; and hence it was impossible he should be holden of the pains of death, Acts ii. 24. Herein we see how it is just with God to justify the ungodly believing in Jesus, who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification; and it is upon this ground we can triumphantly say, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again." Rom. viii. 33, 84. Thus we are quickened together with Christ, having all our trespasses forgiven. Col. ii. 13.
1. The resurrection of Christ demonstrated him to be the true Messiah, the Son of God. Rom. i. 4. Christ himself rested the proof of his character and mission upon that event, Matt. xii. 38-40. John ii. 18-22. Had he continued in the grave it would have refuted all his pretensions; but his resurrection from the dead has fully decided the controversy about his person and character; for to this agreed the prophecies concerning him, Psalm xvi. 10. and he must 3. It imports the resurrection of be a person of infinite dignity and our bodies at the last day, and is power, who could thus lay down the evidence, earnest, and examhis life and take it again, John x. ple of it. The apostle tells the 18. He whom God thus begot Corinthians that to deny the resurfrom the dead is thereby declared rection of the saints was in effect to be his Son, Psalm ii. 7. Acts to deny Christ's resurrection, 1 Cor. xiii. 33. and that in a sense supe- xv. 12, 13. "Now if Christ be rior to angels. Heb. i. 5. and as preached that he rose from the the object of their worship, ver. 6. dead, how say some among you 2. It imports the perfection of that there is no resurrection of the that atonement which he made dead? But if there be no resurunto God for the sins of his peo-rection of the dead, then is Christ ple. The apostle says, " If Christ not risen." This inference is foundbe not risen we are yet in our sins," ed upon the inseparable connec1 Cor. xv. 17. Had he remained tion betwixt Christ's resurrection
and that of his people. Many the dead if there were none to have amused themselves and others follow him in their order. We with arguments in proof of a future cannot be the children of God state drawn from the nature of without being the children of the things, such as the immateriality resurrection, for he is not the God of the soul of man; but these and father of the dead, but of the arguments are neither satisfactory living, Luke xx. 36, 38. Further, nor conclusive. But the resur- he shows that in the resurrection rection of Christ gives us sure body we shall bear the image of intelligence, and shows us the doc- Christ, being fashioned like unto trine exemplified in a plain and his glorious risen body, even as we well-attested fact, equally plain now bear the image of Adam in and level to every capacity. our earthy, animal, and mortal bodies, ver. 44-49. "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam a quickening spirit-The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven; as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthly (man) we shall also bear the image of the heavenly,” so that he is the exemplar of our risen bodies.
But what connection is there betwixt the resurrection of Christ and that of his people, so as that the one should necessarily infer the other?
The apostle answers this question, and illustrates it by the connection which we have with Adam in the death pronounced upon his sin, 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." Our connection with Adam was such that the sentence pronounced upon his sin took effect upon all his posterity, for death hath passed upon all men, and there is nothing we are surer of than death; such also is our connection with Christ that his rising from the dead with equal certainty ensures our resurrection, for he hath risen as our public head and representative, and the life he hath obtained from the dead is our life. He sets forth Christ in his resurrection as the firstfruits of them that sleep, ver. 20, 23. and so alludes to the nature and design of the first fruits under the law, (Lev. xix. 24. Deut. xxvi. 2.) which being offered to the Lord consecrated the whole harvest, and was a sample as well as certain pledge and earnest of it.He is also called the first-born, the first begotten from the dead, Col. i. 18. Rev. i. 5. and that in respect of the many brethren connected with him in that birth; for he could not be first-born from
By virtue of the intimate and indissoluble union betwixt Christ and his people, they are virtually raised with him already. He took their nature into personal union with him, and raised it up from the death which came by Adam to the heavenly, glorious, and immortal life. Thus God hath given unto them eternal life in his Son, and because he lives they shall live also. Those who are made partakers of his Spirit, have the earnest of eternal life, and are assured that he that raised up Jesus from the dead will also quicken their mortal bodies by his Spirit which dwelleth in them, Rom. viii. 11. This first fruits of the Spirit communicated to them from their living risen head is a well of water springing up unto eternal life, and leads them to groan within themselves waiting for the adoption, viz. the redemption of their bodies from the
grave, ver. 23. when they shall see him as he is and be like him.
2 Cor. iv. 14. and against our indulging excessive grief under bereaving dispensations of providence where there is reason to hope that our friends have died in the faith, 1 Thess. iv. 13, 14.—and in fine, as a motive to believers to set their affection on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God-to keep in memory that when Christ who is their life shall appear, then shall they also appear with him in glory. Col. iii. 1-4. Let every one who hath this hope in him, purify himself, even as the Lord is pure. 1 John iii. 1-3.
ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF
"So teach us to number our days, that we
4. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, is always held forth in the scripture, as the ground of hope to the guilty; and the belief of it in the heart is justifying faith. Hence the apostle says, "God who quickeneth the dead -raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification." Rom. iv. 17, 24, 25. And again, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." ch. x. 9. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved for you in heaven." 1 Pet. i. 3-5. 5. The resurrection of Christing and rebellion of Israel at from the dead, gives assurance of Kadesh, and their consequent his power to judge the world, and wasting away in the wilderness as punish his enemies; consequently the punishment of it, according to it is a motive to all men every where the divine threatening, see Num. to repent. In this point of view, xiv. 27-36. compared with Ps. we find the apostle setting it before xc. 5-10. the Philosophers and polished citizens of Athens. 66 God, said he, now commands all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assur-all their successive generations from ance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead." Acts xviii. 30, 31. John v. 20-27.
6. Lastly; The doctrine of Christ's resurrection is made use of by the apostles, as a motive to gratitude in the minds of Christians, 1 Peter i. 23.- -as a powerful inducement to sted fastness in the work of the Lord, 1 Cor. xv. 58.-as a stimulus to patience under the evils of this present life,
THE title of this Psalm informs us that it is a prayer of Moses the man of God. The occasion of it seems to have been, the murmur
The writer begins with acknowledging God's peculiar care, support and protection of them. În their wandering and sojourning state without an inheritance or city of habitation, God himself had been their refuge and dwelling-place in
Abraham, see Deut. viii. 14—16. ch. xxxiii. 27, 28. Psalm xci. 9. -Then he takes a view of the eternity of God with whom there is no succession of time, and with whom a thousand years are but as yesterday or a watch in the night, ver. 2-4. that the shortness of human life might the more strikingly appear by the contrast, see Psalm cii. 24-28. Upon this last point he expatiates in a most pa
thetic strain, with a particular | Psalm xxxix. 4. It is not a specu
view to the judgments inflicted on that people for their sins, and by which they were consumed in his anger, ver. 5-10. But it is evident from ver. 10. that he has also the shortness of human life in general in his eye; and the text contains a prayer for grace to make a proper improvement of that awful and solemn truth; "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
The words naturally divide themselves into two parts, and lead us to consider-what is implied in numbering our days-and the effect which this should have upon us, namely, "applying our hearts unto wisdom." Now to number our days imports,
lative knowledge he prays for, but a deep and practical impression of it. For every rational person has the former, but none but believers have the latter. It also implies,
2. A deep impression of the uncertainty of our lives. Some persons live till threescore and ten, or fourscore years, ver. 10. but to calculate our lives by the utmost boundary of old age, would be a most deceitful and foolish computation, when observation demonstrates, that the greater part of mankind never survive infancy. From the ordinary and uniform course of nature we can calculate many things, and fix their duration and periods with certainty; but by what rule shall we calculate the 1. A deep and habitual recol- duration of our lives? Shall we lection aud impression of the reckon upon youth, health and shortness of our days in this mor- strength? Alas! though these tal state. This is evident from may flatter our fond hopes, they the context with which this prayer cannot secure us against the stroke stands connected, which compares of death, or insure us of one future the state of man in this world to moment. Who can ascertain the grass, which in the morning flou- innumerable external means of risheth, and in the evening is cut death, which we can neither foresee down, and represents our strength nor prevent? nor can we trace the as labour and sorrow which is innumerable internal causes of soon cut off, and we flee away, mortality which lurk in our conver. 5, 10. The scripture uses a stitution in the very neighbourvariety of metaphors to impress hood of health and strength? In our minds with this important short, every fond thought on this truth. The dimensions of our subject is founded altogether on lives are compared to a span, a uncertainty and presumption. The band breadth-their swiftness to a man who reckoned upon his wealth post, a weaver's shuttle, an eagle and enjoyment of it, without -their illusive vanishing nature to taking his life into the account, is a dream, a vapour. But though called a fool, Luke xii. 20. We experience as well as revelation are forbid to boast of to-morrow, daily confirms this interesting because we know not what a day truth; yet the generality never lay may bring forth, Prov. xxvii. and it to heart, but form their schemes, James speaks of such as say, "To and act as if they thought them- day or to morrow we will go into selves immortal. Even the chil- such a city, and continue there a dren of God are not so much im-year, and buy and sell, and get prest with this as they ought to be: gain;" and he calls it vain boasting, hence the Psalmist prays, Lord, since they know not what shall be make me to know mine end, and on the morrow, their life being the measure of my days what it is, but a vapour that appeareth for a that I may know how frail I am." little time, and then passeth away,
chap, iv. 13, 14. In numbering | lasting enjoyment of God, in the our days therefore, we must only world to come, which cannot be reckon upon the present moment, obtained without attending to and not presume upon futurity, what he says and complying with which is altogether uncertain. his revealed will; so the scrip3. The duty implies a just estiture informs us that "the fear of mate of the importance of our the Lord is the beginning, or chief present time. Few and as uncer-part, of wisdom," Psalm cxi. 10. tain as our days are, they form a This wisdom imports-A deep and most important period of our humbling sense of our guilty and existence. It is to every one of miserable state by nature-A firm us the time which the Scripture belief and cordial acceptation of calls To-day in which we are to the way of salvation through a hear God's voice, and believe the crucified Saviour, who is the wisgospel unto our salvation, Heb. iii. dom of God and the power of 7, 8. It is as to us the accepted God unto the salvation of all who time and day of salvation, 2 Cor. believe-A cheerful compliance vi. 2. It is the only time allotted with, and conformity to, his will in us to fight the good fight of faith, all things whatsoever he has comand lay hold on eternal life, to run manded; for "a good understandthe race set before us that we may ing have all they that keep his obtain the prize, and to occupy commandments."
our talents so as to obtain our Now, it is not enough that we Lord's approbation when he comes. have the speculative knowledge of For though the gospel-day will this wisdom, and a mere outward continue till Christ come again, form of obedience, but we must yet our part of that day is only the apply (or cause to come) our short and uncertain span of our hearts unto it, having our whole lives; and if that be let slip, there souls engaged in it as our great is no more accepted time or day and chief concern. Formality of salvation as to us: but dark-and lukewarmness will not do here. ness comes upon us when no man This application of our hearts can work, "for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we go." Eccl. ix. 10. If therefore the scripture states such a connection between men's conduct in this world and their happiness or misery in the next, we ought in numbering our days to consider every one of them as of the utmost consequence in relation to our main concern, and beware lest any of them go to waste.
unto wisdom should be influenced by numbering our days. We should be affected and act like persons on the brink of eternity, who can reckon only upon the present important moment. This would lead us to sit loose by the things of this world; to remember that "the time is short; that it behoves those who have wives to be as though they had none; and they that weep as though they wept not; and they 4. The end of thus numbering that rejoice as though they reour days is, that we may apply joiced not; and they that buy as our hearts unto wisdom. The though they possessed not; and consideration of the shortness, they that use this world as not uncertainty and importance of our abusing it, seeing the fashion of time will be of little consequence this world passeth away." 1 Cor. without this. Wisdom consists in vii. 29–31. It will lead the disdiscerning, preferring and pursuing ciples of Christ to cleave to him our true interest or chief happi- as their only hope to do whatness; and as this lies in the ever-ever their hand findeth to do, with