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rising from the dead offers to us all. But we must remember, when we hear and read of the triumphant resurrection of our Lord, that nothing which belongs either to the person, the character, or the office of Jesus Christ, was ever intended to be taught, to any of us, without this its proper fruit: that we are, individually to profit by it. Let us then bring this important consideration home to ourselves.
By our Lord's first advent in the flesh, we have the gracious revelation of His covenanted mercy, and are therefore to prepare for His second advent, to receive an account of our respective talents.
By our Lord's dying upon the cross, we learn the glorious truth that divine justice is satisfied; and that there is a way now opened, through the blood of Christ, to repentance, to pardon, and reconciliation with God. By our Lord's resurrection from the grave, we receive the sure promise of being justified through Him, in the sight of our offended Maker. By His ascension into heaven, we know that He is gone to prepare a place for us, and that He will come again to receive us unto Himself. These are the practical uses which the great and mysterious events of our Redeemer's history upon earth, are intended to supply. Let us look into our own hearts, and answer
some such question as this to our own conscience.
In the fulness of our knowledge of these great truths, do we consider them so essentially necessary, so immediately applicable to our own souls, as to strive to make our daily conduct answerable to our knowledge;—so watching over our ways and habits of life, our temper, passions, and appetites, as to shew to God, to the world, and to ourselves, that we, indeed, believe in the doctrines of the Gospel?
Upon the answer which our own conscience can give to this question, depends the truth or falsehood of our profession, when we say that we believe in Christ. When we pursue our various employments in life, when we mix in daily intercourse with each other, do we act upon what we know, and strive so to demean ourselves, as those ought who profess to believe, that Jesus, our Lord, died and rose again, and ascended into the heavens? or, forgetful of the great responsibility attached to this knowledge, do we think upon these things only, when, in the outward performance of our religious duties, we hear it of necessity brought before us? Let us never forget, that there can be but two ways in which these great doctrines are received. The first, by an outward confession; the other, by a real and
active faith. A mere outward confession is all that many know or wish to know of the power, and end, and practical use of the resurrection of our Lord; because they know that if they truly receive it, they must rise from a life of sin unto a life of righteousness. It is this only by which we can, any of us, shew, that we really believe in the resurrection of Christ.
To one of these opposite classes of Christians we all belong. Among Christians, who profess to believe, there is no other distinction as to the proof and efficacy of a saving faith. We either apply ourselves in earnest to rise from the power of natural corruption, of evil habits, evil example, and outward temptation, by remembering, and by acting up to our calling in Christ Jesus our triumphant Saviour; or we are contented to live with little care about the soul and the things of the next world, abundantly satisfied with the things of this life, anxious after what concerns the body and our short-lived continuance in this present state, and caring little for the concerns of eternity.
As, therefore, we must belong to one or other of these most opposite descriptions of believers in the resurrection of our Lord, it is of the most fearful consequence to our souls, that we well and profitably ascertain which
it is; whether we are at this moment, under the gracious influence and help of God, going on in the narrow road that leads to life; or, blindly and obstinately rushing forward in the broad road which leads thousands to everlasting destruction. Whether we will hear, or whether we will forbear, whether we will apply this awful consideration, or not, we may be assured that a day is coming on, in the which every one who now slightingly regards these solemn truths, will wish that he had bestowed upon them more profitable thought. If that day come upon us before repentance shall have yielded its appointed fruits, it will then be too late for any other reflection upon the past, than that bitter one which remains as a warning in the word of God. "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!"
Let us then well consider, before that day come upon us, whether our belief in the resurrection of our Lord from the dead, be little or nothing more than a bare outward confession. If so, are we still unwilling to receive it as "a savour of life unto life," still slothful to act upon it as a holy motive of better obedience, that so, through these proffered mercies of Christ's resurrection, our own may be looked forward to as a joyful rising to glory?
If we practically disown the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, what are our hopes, where are our fears? If our hopes be not fixed altogether upon Christ in believing what He hath done, and practising what He hath taught, where can we elsewhere find a resting place for our soul! Have we any other Saviour to go to? Can the world and its sinful pleasures, and vain profits, save us "from the wrath to come ?" If we remain thus cold and indifferent towards the great ends and events of Christ's first coming upon earth, the resurrection of His body, as the pledge of the resurrection of ours, will give us neither peace, nor hope, in life or in death; and much less will it give us peace or hope after death. For it shews to us all, that as "Christ is risen from the dead," so shall we all likewise rise again; but not all to an equal condition; some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting punishment.
This is a thought, solemn in itself, and ever pointing out a future truth, which all shall at length see literally accomplished. If, through God's grace, it at last speak to the hearts of any, who who may may not heretofore have received these things as the seed sown upon good ground; if they are at length brought to see that the soul which cannot die is really worth their care, may they seize the holy