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" contentions and enmity with God, the de“ struction of death, and our victory over the “ devil. Hence in some antient writers it is “ distinguished from all other Lord's days in the
year by the peculiar name of Dominica gaudii, “ the Lord's day of joy."*
This glorious event which is to day commemorated in the Christian church, is so well known in all its particulars that a recital of them is needless. The circumstances of our adored Saviour's triumph over sin and death and hell are detailed in the course of our service, and therefore instead of repeating them we shall employ our time to a greater advantage by endeavouring to improve the history.
Our collect shews us the use which we are to make of it. The resurrection of Christ is not only a fact to be believed, but it is also in its effects a truth to be experienced. An historical assent to the fact, without a perception of its power in our own hearts, will be of no avail to salvation. We must rise with Christ from the grave of natural corruption; and, being “ risen with Christ,” must "seek those things “ which are above, where Christ sitteth at the
Bingham's Antiquities, book xx. chap. 5, sect. 5. “ In the primitive times the Christians of all churches on this day used this morning salutation, Christ is risen ; to which those who were saluted ans
nswered, Christ is risen indeed, or else thus, and hath appeared unto Simon a custom still retained in the Greek church. And our church, supposing us as eager of the joyful news as they were, is loath to withhold from us long the pleasure of expressing it; and therefore, as soon as the absolution is pronounced, and we are thereby rendered fit for rejoicing, she begins her office of praise with anthems proper to the day, encouraging her members to call upon one another to keep the feast ; for that Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, and is also risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept,
c." Wheatly, page 211, Oxford edit.
right hand of God. We must set our affec“ tions on things above, and not on things be“ neath, being dead, and having our life hid « with Christ in God."
Our collect consists of two parts, an introduction and a prayer. In the preface the bles, sed consequences of Christ's resurrection are recited, and in the prayer we implore for ourselves an experimental acquaintance with its saving effects
The preface is an act of adoration addressed to “the Lord God Omnipotent" as “the Father " of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Tbat exertion of
power which God wrought in Christ when He “ raised Him from the dead,” fully justifies the epithet by which we glorify His name.
For to “ overcome death and open unto us the gate of “ everlasting life," by the resurrection of His “only begotten Son Jesus Christ,” was an act of “ Almighty” power, and encourages us in the petition which we offer for that “special “ grace" whereby alone the desires which it hath put within us can be brought to good effect.
When our collect asserts that « death” is “ overcome,” it alludes to the triumphal language of St. Paul, (1 Cor. xv. 54) which the Apostle has cited from the evangelical prophet (Is. xxv. 8.) “Death is swallowed up in vic
tory.' This victory indeed has its several
* “ Metaphora est, desumpta a mari, palude, voragine profundâ, igne, animantibus voracibus, quorum est injecta aut hausta eum in modum absumere, ut plane evanescant et dispareant."_“ Est præterea in hoc dicto prophetæ O&uuwpor, quod obiter illud inspicientes non observant. Cum enim mortis ipsius proprie attributum censeatur homay be askerl, On whose account and for whose benefit is death overcome ? Ilas the vic
gradations, and will not be complete in its effects till “ the resurrection of the just;" wben, with respect to “the general assembly of the “ church of the first-born whose names are writ. “ten in heaven,” death shall be abolished with all its preliminaries and consequences as thouglı it had never been known. For then “ God shall
wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there « shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor
crying, neither shall there be any more pain : s for the former things will be passed away.” (Rev. xxi. 4.) Then indeed, when “this cor
ruptible shall have put on incorruption, and “ this mortal shall have put on immortality, “ shall be brought to pass the saying that is “ written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. xv. 54.) In the mean time however, our Redeemer having triumphed in His own person as the head of His church, and the blessings purchased by His cross being secured by virtue of His resurrection from the dead, our church is justified in asserting that “God hath “ overcome death through His only begotten “ Son Jesus Christ." And believers are justified in exclaiming, with the triumphant tone of the Apostle, “ O death, where is thy sting? O grave, “ where is thy victory? The sting of death is “sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but “thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory “ through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. xv. 55. 57.) It
mines involvere et absorbere : propheta emphatice simul et eleganter mortis abolitionem et destructionem expositurus, mortem ipsam, quam Mythologi (reci sub imagine Stygiae paludis et Acherontis exhibent, docet involutuin et absorptuni iri.” Vitringa in Jesaiam.
tory which has been obtained a relation to all mankind, so that all mankind will necessarily be benefited by it?-By no means. It is obtained for the benefit of those only who under the influence of Divine grace are induced to take a holy advantage of it. None but believers in Christ will participate in it. The rest of the world will indeed be raised from the grave by the power of God, but they will rise to feel the bitter fruits of sin in the second death. Their resurrection will not be the effect of Christ's mediation, but an act of Divine justice, and a step preparatory to eternal perditio. of body and soul. Their death is a part, and but a part, of the penalty of the broken law.
A further inquiry may be raised to the following effect. If ~ God, througl. His only begotos ten Son Jesus Christ, hath overcome death" for the benefit of all the faithful, why do the faithful die as well as others? Why are they not translated without seeing death to the mansions of immortality and glory provided for them? How doth it comport with the wisdom, justice and goodness of God to inflict the penalty of His law both on the surety and on the original debtor?
If no information were given us on this subject, it ought to satisfy our minds that it seemeth good in the sight of God that His people shoulil vlie, and that the Judge of all the earth must do right. But sufficient light is shed on the subject by the Scriptures for the purpose of shewing us, that this appointment tends both to the promotion of God's glory and of His people's happiness. Two instances have occurred in the history of the church of a translation to glory without death. Thiese afford irrefragable
evidence that the death of believers is not necessary as any part of the penalty due to Divine justice for sin, and that it is not therefore to be considered as of a penal nature and judicially inflicted as a vindictive punishment. To these two instances a multitude of others will be added at the coming of Christ. For those who are then found alive will be changed without death so as to be qualified for heavenly happiness, and shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. If death were necessary as a part of the atonement in one case, it would be so in all.
We are moreover informed that corporeal death is highly beneficial to the faithful. " To “ die is gain,” says a competent judge of the matter. “I am in a strait betwixt two,” says the same inspired writer, “ having a desire to
depart and to be with Christ which is far bet“ ter.” (Phil. i. 21, 23.) “ We are willing ra" ther to be absent from the body, and to “ be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. V. 8.) • Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver “me from the body of this death?” (Rom. vii. 24.) Now how can an event, from which nature must be abhorrent, be so desirable, but on account of high advantages to be derived from it? The chief of these is the destruction of sin which is the cause of all other evils, and which the Scripture considers as chiefly resident in the body. (Rom. vi. 6, 12, and vii. 23, 24.) For though the rational soul only can be guilty of sin, temptations to the commission of it chiefly enter through the senses of the body; and hence the principle of corruption is called « flesh.” The will of a regenerate man is turned to God, anxiously aims at a perfect conformity to His image, and seeks His glory.