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cause have we of joy and exultation! Of joy, in that his resurrection hath afforded us an irrefragable testimony to convince the world, that we have not misplaced our faith, our hope, our worship; since that Jesus whom we serve, was not only lifted up on the cross, but gloriously raised from the grave.. Of joy, in that his resurrection is an infallible evidence to us, that the debt is paid, when the Surety is discharged from the arrest: that now God's justice will as well acquit us from our guilt, as his mercy; since it is not consistent with the rules and measures of justice, to punish the same offence in the principals, for which the Surety hath fully satisfied. And, lastly, of joy, in that his resurrection is a most certain and assured pledge of ours: and that he hath risen before us, only to pluck us out of our graves; and is ascended into heaven before us, only to prepare mansions for us, and, by the virtue of his resurrection and intercession, to lift us from the dust, to sit together with him in heavenly places..
And now, truly, the best way that I know to affect your hearts with joy for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is, first to lead you to his cross and sepulchre. Let me say unto you, as the angel did to the women, Come, see the place where the Lord lay...
Behold him, first, in his Death and Sufferings. See the Lord upon the cross, pouring out his blood and his soul for you; and this will be a good help to heighten your joy, when you shall consider him risen again, and come triumphantly from under all his agonies and sorrows. This day exhibits Christ unto you, both bleeding and reigning, suffering and conquering, dying and reviving all the glorious achievements of Redemption are this day to be represented lively to your faith and devotion; and as a messenger sent to you by Christ, I do, in his name, invite you to come and see your Lord, and mourn over him in the holy institution of his Supper. I know we are apt to wish, that we had lived in the time of Christ's abode here upon earth; that we had been conversant with him, as his disciples were, to have seen both his miraculous actions, and his no less miraculous passion. Why, truly, the disciples' sight of these things hath no advantage at all above our faith. If we can but act faith in this ordinance, which we are this day to partake of, these things will be now present to us. There shall we see Christ crucified before our eyes; yea, and crucified as truly and really to our faith, as ever he was to the sense of others. This can carry us
into the garden, and make us do more than they, even watch with him in his agonies. This can carry us, without being befriended by acquaintance, into the judgment-hall, to hear his whole trial and arraignment. This can lead us, with the multitude and crowd of people, to his cross; and, in this ordinance, we may see his body broken and his blood poured out, and hear him crying It is finished, and see him at last give up the ghost. All this the holy sacrament doth as lively represent to the eye of faith, as if it were now doing. Consider: were there a sight to be represented, at which heaven, and earth, and hell itself, should stand amazed; wherein God himself should suffer, not only in the form of a servant, but under the notion of a malefactor; wherein the everlasting happiness of all mankind, from the first creation of the world to the final dissolution of it, should be transacted; in which you might see the venom and poisonous strength of all our sins wrung into one bitter cup, and that put into the hands of the Son of God to drink the very dregs of it; in which you might see the gates of hell broken to pieces, devils conquered, and all the powers of darkness: were there, I say, but such a sight as this, so dreadful and yet so glorious, to be now represented, would you not all desire to be spectators of it? Why, I invite you to it this day: only come, and come with faith, and you may see the Son of God slain, the blood of God poured out: you may see Him, who takes away transgressions, numbered himself among transgressors: you may see him hanging on the soreness and tenderness of his hands and feet; all our iniquities meeting upon him, and the eternity of divine wrath and vengeance contracted into a short space, and, as beams through a burning-glass, made more violent and scorching by that contraction. Come, therefore, and see, and let your eye affect your heart with deep and bitter sorrow, that ever you should embrue your hands in the blood of your Saviour, that ever you should be his executioners and murderers, that ever your sins and guilt should squeeze so much gall and wormwood into the bitter cup of his passion.
And, when you have thus wept over your dying Lord, let joy and gladness again fill your hearts, for he is risen: he is risen from death to life, from earth to heaven; by the one, to confirm our faith; by the other, to prepare our glory.
STATE AND WAY OF SALVATION.
FROM HEB. vi. 9.
BUT, BELOVED, WE ARE PERSUADED BETTER THINGS OF YOU, AND THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION, THOUGH WE THUS SPEAK.
BETTER things. Indeed, the Apostle had, in the foregoing verses, spoken very dreadful and fatal things, concerning some hypocritical and unsound professors. And his discourse of them may be reduced unto these Three heads:
The high Attainments of such professors.
The wretched Apostacy of such hypocrites.
The fearful Perdition of such apostates.
First. He discovers their Attainments; and gives us, as it were, the ultimum quod sic, the highest strain and pitch that such can reach unto.
First. Be enlightened, i. e. baptized; and have a deep and searching knowledge into the mysteries of the Gospel, so as clearly to understand them, and to unfold them perspicuously and demonstratively unto others.
Secondly. They may have tasted of the heavenly gift. They may have some relishes upon their spirits, of the excellency, sweetness, and preciousness of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift God ever gave to the world.
Thirdly. They may be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, in his gifts; those Xaqopara, which were poured forth upon the Church. And those, both extraordinary; such as were then bestowed upon the Primitive Church, as the gift of tongues, of
prophecy, of working miracles: and also ordinary, in illumination; conviction; partial reformation; fluent elocution, both to God in prayer and to men in instruction; which still remain to this day, and are dispensed in common, both to those who are savingly wrought upon, and to those who are utter strangers to the life of grace and the power of true godliness.
Fourthly. They may have tasted the good word of God; and may have found so much sweetness and comfort in the doctrine and promises of it, as to hear it gladly with Herod, and to receive it joyfully with the stony ground.
Fifthly. They may have tasted of the powers of the world to come; and have had some prelibations of eternal glory, in some ecstatical raptures and transports of spirit, as if they were gotten quite above mortality: and these foretastes may entertain them with fair and flourishing hopes, that they shall for ever drink of those rivers of pleasure that flow at God's right-hand.
These, you see, are great and high attainments, which the Apostle allows to unsound professors: vv. 4, 5.
For that they were never otherwise, appears,
Secondly. In the Defection and Apostacy of these hypocrites from all these glorious attainments.
And this apostacy is not only gradual and partial; such as is too often incident to the best saints, who decline from the spiritualness and excellency of their first ways; but total and final; ending in a malicious renouncing of the truth, and the profession of the name of Christ, which is the very formality of the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. If such shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance: v. 6. and, therefore, it is alike impossible that ever they should be pardoned. For this conditional proposition, if they fall away, supposeth a possibility of it; because the Apostle gives it both as a caution against security, and a motive to a farther progress and perfection. They may fall, and fall away, and fall away to an utter impossibility of renewing them again unto repentance. Thirdly. He discovers the woeful Perdition of these apostates. And that he doth by an elegant similitude, taken from barren ground; to which such apostates are compared, v. 8. For, if God hath manured them, and caused the dew of heaven to fall plentifully upon them from his ordinances, and yet they bring forth nothing but briars and thorns, let them know that they lie under a most tremendous doom.
-First. They are rejected of God; reprobated and hated of him. If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him: Heb. x. 38.
Secondly. They are nigh unto a curse. The dreadful curse of God hangs hovering over their heads; and, would they but look about them, they might see thick and black clouds gathering, and ready to break upon them and overwhelm them with a tempest of the divine wrath and fury, and they would live in a certain fearful expectation of fiery indignation to devour and consume them. For,
Thirdly. Their end is to be burned. They are cut out to be firebrands for hell; ordained of old unto this condemnation: who so long wilfully withdraw from God, that they fall into the Devil's arms; and recede so far backward from Christ and their seeming piety and splendid profession, that they tumble into everlasting fire; and there for ever suffer the most acute tortures, the most direful plagues, that either the infinite wisdom of God can prepare, or the infinite power of God inflict; and lie eternally cursing and accursed, under the revenges of that God, whom they have maliciously despited.
But, lest any tender-hearted Christian should be discouraged and dejected by this terrible and startling doctrine; a doctrine, which might have then, and hath since, caused many sad fears to seize upon the spirits of those, who are true and sincere, but yet timorous and doubting saints; the Apostle comforts them in the words of my text: and tells them, that, though he had spoken so sharply against apostates, yet they should not apply, it to themselves, as though he suspected them for such; that his discourse was directed unto them, not as censure, but as caution; not as judging them to be such, but forewarning them lest they should be such. As if he should say," Interpret not what I have spoken, as if I thought you forlorn and cursed apostates from Christ: these things do not appertain to you, otherwise than as matter that deserves your care and caution: for, though I have propounded to you the danger of apostacy; yet I have great confidence of the sincerity of your profession, and the perseverance of your faith and obedience: We are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."