Page images

person of the meek and suffering Jesus, let us behold the mysterious union of the Eternal "God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." Let us believe and obey, and then go on in a holy confidence. But in all our progress, let us not trust to vain assurances, trust not to our feelings, trust not to our character among men; but let us trust in God. In Him our redemption is accomplished.

In conclusion, let us consider the case of those who believe, and those, among professing Christians, who do not believe. To those who believe, and shew their belief in the great mystery of our redemption by a good and holy life, they need only to be urged on by the encouraging words of God himself: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." To Him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."*

For those, on whose hearts the solemn truths of religion have hitherto made no deeper impression, than what the succeeding cares, and pleasures, and temptations of life have very speedily effaced, upon these should be deeply impressed this awful consideration: that, though the Gospel is all peace, and light to those who accept it; a dispensation of unspeakable love and mercy to all who en* Rev. ii. 10, 7.

deavour to understand, believe in, and obey it; it is to those who refuse it more terrible than our imagination itself can conceive. The dreadful reality of its terrors can be known by such only as shall experience the horrors of " that second death." Christ Himself has most plainly assured us all, that " In the day of judgment, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, than for" those who refused the offered mercy and redeeming love of God. Let the anticipation of what must then be the poignant reflections of those who shall have so refused the Gospel, be now a lesson leading to a happier issue; let this be done, before it be discovered too late for any further trial," how fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God."




[ocr errors]


Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept."

[ocr errors]

THE public services of the church have now brought us through the great festivals, wherein have been celebrated the birth, persecutions, sufferings, death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ; and we are arrived at that day of great rejoicing, which shews us the once crucified Jesus taking unto Himself his own eternal power, and raising Himself from the dead. This is a doctrine which concerns us all: for "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain."* "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept." By His death, and all its awful circumstances, Christ proved Himself the great sacrifice long foretold, for the sins of the world, and by his raising Himself through His own power from the grave, He proved Himself God.

* 1 Cor. xv. 14.

Let us first give our most earnest attention to the plain matter of fact, that our Lord Jesus Christ, according to His own express assurance, while He was yet alive, did actually rise again. When He was dead, His enemies, who had crucified Him, well remembered that He had Himself declared that He should come to life again the third day. They knew that if this great miracle should indeed take place, and be publicly known, the people would believe in Him, and receive Him as the Christ. They made use, therefore, of a plan, which, if the words of Jesus had been false, would easily have shewn them to be so. It was this: "Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, after three days, I will rise again. Command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."*

* Matth. xxvii. 62-66.

But how vain was all this care to disprove the word of God! "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, behold there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him, the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.-Now behold some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, "Say ye His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."*

This plain account in the sacred history, of what the enemies of our Lord did to prevent His rising from the grave, proves, better than any other argument which at this distance of time, we could have received, that he actually did rise again, and that all the craft and pains * Matth. xxviii. 1-15.

« PreviousContinue »