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and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." Not as those vulgar, ordinary stars, that have light enough only to make them visible; but like those more noble lights, which are able to cast a shadow through the whole creation, even like the sun in his full strength. And the preferment we are likely to gain, is very answerable to our loss; we shall be glorious, shining firebrands, of the first magnitude, in whose fearful, horrible, destruction, God will shew what he is able to do.
“ Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea
rather, that is risen again.”- Rom. viii. 34.
If I durst appear in this place with any ends and projects of mine own; if, whilst I preach unto you Jesus Christ, I could think it worth my labour to lose a thought about the purchasing of a vain, fruitless reputation and opinion amongst my hearers; surely, I should by no means omit so commodious and tempting an opportunity as this argument of Christ's resurrection may suggest unto me; it being a business, in the effecting whereof, above all the works which God ever made since he began to work, he most especially glorified almost all his Divine attributes ; it being a deliverance, even of God himself, from destruction and rottenness.
2. It is an argument so pleasing to St. Paul, that in many places, he seems to magnify it even to the undervaluing and disparagement of whatsoever Christ before either did or suffered. In a sermon of his (Acts xiii.) preached at Antioch, he makes it the complement and fulfilling of whatsoever God had promised to the fathers, and of all the prophecies, which, since the beginning of the world, had been delivered by God's messengers. To make which good, the apostle himself in that place (whereas he needed not to strain so far; there were then extant prophecies enough, purposely and precisely declaring the glory and power of Christ's re
surrection) notwithstanding, as it would seem, mistakes that famous prophecy of Christ's birth, in those words of the second psalm, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee;" and seemingly misapplies them to his resurrection. Why, was he then indeed the carpenter's son? was it a confession, and not humility, that he called himself the Son of man? were the torments of his
passion and death (as himself seems to intimate, John xvi. 21.) only the pangs and throes of his new birth?
3. By no means; he was, even in the extremest degree, and lowest point of his humiliation; yea, when himself in that last terrible agony, did seem to call it in question; yet then also he was indeed the only-begotten eternal Son of God; or, if he had not, most miserable and desperate had been
But by his resurrection he did declare, unquestionably, and without all contradiction, unto the world, his glory and majesty; or, to speak in St. Paul's words, (Rom. i.) “ He was mightily declared to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead."
4. But we now celebrate a feast, a season of joy and exultation, which we use not to do upon the memory of God's most wo
of God's most wonderful acts and exploits, though never so much expressing the glory of his majesty and power, unless they have been beneficial unto us; unless they have very nearly concerned our safety and happiness.
5. And surely this great deliverance of Christ from the dominion and power of hell and the grave, when God called his Son the third time out of Egypt; this victory of his, did in a high degree import us, and advance our welfare ; it had some
more than ordinary influence upon our salvation, otherwise, this season, dedicated to the memory thereof, would not have been so acceptable to the primitive Christians, to make them (as it were in revenge and faction against the late melancholy time of fasting and repentance) for its sake, to set up an anti-lent, and to appoint other forty days of feasting and triumph, which was more (as Tertullian boasteth) than all the solemn holidays of the heathen joined together. Yea, so scrupulous were they in the celebration of this feast (quite opposite to the solemn peevishness of some Christians of our times) that, for the whole space between Easter and Pentecost, as it is thought, they quite intermitted the works and exercise of their vocations : they would not suffer one fasting-day to appear; they left off their severity and discipline, their Vigilia and Stationes ; nay, they would not, all that time, so much as de geniculis adorare (in the witty barbarous expression of the same father, in his book De corona militis) they would not shew so much faint-heartedness and dejection, as to kneel at prayers.
6. Therefore, instead of saying fine things of the fashion and contrivance of this business of Christ's resurrection; instead of raising matter of wonder and astonishment out of the glory and power of it; I will endeavour (being to conclude the solemn celebration of this feast) by way and application, to discover the issue and fruit thereof in respect of us : not only the convenience, but the extreme necessity, and the strict coherence, which our salvation has, not only upon the satisfaction and death, but upon the resurrection and life, of our blessed Saviour.
7. Now we find many things ascribed to Christ's life and death in Holy Scripture, only as to patterns and exemplary causes, being duties, which the consideration of Christ's death and resurrection ought proportionably to exact from us; as, if Christ be dead, then count yourselves also dead unto sin; if risen again, then count yourselves alive unto righteousness. For how it should come to pass, that so much of our holiness as makes up mortification, and no more, should be ascribed to Christ's death, as a proper effect and fruit thereof; and the rest, which is newness of life and obedience, should be imputed to his resurrection, I shall never be able to comprehend.
8. The benefits, therefore, which accrue unto us by Christ, I suppose may be divided either into those which flow from the merit of his death, or from the power and influence of his life. In the former, are comprehended all whatsoever Christ hath done for us ; in the latter, whatsoever he doth or will work in us. And both being extremely necessary, it shall be this hour's employment, to shew with what good reason we celebrate a feast at this time, that we should not terminate our contemplation only on the great love and bowels of compassions on Good Friday expressed unto us; but also, and with better reason, on the joy and comfort, which with great reason we may collect from this business of Easter, even that lively hope whereunto we are regenerated by the resurrection of Christ : and to join with St. Paul in his wonder and amazement, at the consideration of the infinite mercy and power of God; and thereupon his boasting and challenging, securely, all manner of adversaries : “Who is he that shall. .