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gained over them in his doctrine and miracles. But their power in the world being at stake, and ambition and rage making them mad, preparation was made for a decisive action upon Calvary. Every vassal was armed. Treachery, temptation, falsehood, reproach, violence, policy, injustice, and every engine of destruction was employed. Their adversary appeared in a form that was not terrible. One disciple had betrayed, and another denied him; his own nation had accused, and the Roman governor had condemned him to be crucified. Thus far malice succeeded. But the Lion of the tribe of Judah was too strong for the king of the bottomless pit; and the wisdom of the only wise God, our Saviour, was an overmatch for the ambitious policy of the old serpent. "Through death, he "destroyed him who had the power of death, that is the "devil." Was it not a marvellous sight, and a wonder, to behold the Son of God in our nature, and in the likeness of sinful flesh, facing these malicious powers in battle array, turning the arms of the god of this world upon himself, wresting from him the keys of hell and death; and, when nailed to a tree, entangling him in his own snares, and ruining his designs with his own wiles? "Sing, O ye "heavens, for the Lord hath done it! Shout, ye lower "parts of the earth; break forth into singing, ye moun"tains, O forest and every tree therein; for the Lord hath "redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel!"*
Fourthly, It was the intention of Heaven, to lead the understandings of men into the mystery of the death of the Son of God, in our nature, by the aid of their senses. Why was the fine vail which hung between the holy and the holy of holies rent in twain, from top to bottom? Why did the earth groan, and the rocks burst? Why did graves open, and deliver up their prey? and why did soldiers of Rome make professions, which rulers in Jerusalem denied and ridiculed? These were extraordinary testimonies, magnifying the work which the Son of God had finished; and extraordinary calls, rousing the senses of the slumbering world to contemplate the glory of the mystery of godliness, of which nature all around was passively sensible, O the insensibility and hardness of men! The congregation, which with a mighty hand and a glorious arm thre
* Isa. xliv. 23.
Lord brought out of Egypt, and through the Red Sea, forgat his works, and remembered not his mercies! The operations of his power and mercy were not blotted out of their records and memories: but these operations were not remembered, and celebrated, as manifestations of his glory, calls to gratitude and praise, grounds of trust and confidence, motives to obedience, encouragements to hope, and pleas to be used in applications to his throne throughout all generations. Congregations, in that great community brought out of Rome, and through seas of blood, are chargeable with similar actions of ingratitude and infidelity. The works of the Lord our Righteousness are not imagnified, and the mystery of his death is not acknowledged. His works and his death appear in the records of inspiration: But the wonders in his works are denied, and the mystery in his death is impugned. Ilis works are rehearsed as the doings of a glorious creature, and his death celebrated as the testimony of an holy man and an exemplary martyr. Who hath heard such a thing! Shall mountains tremble at the death of a man, and rocks divide at the crucifixion of a martyr? "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at "this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the "Lord."* "Pass over the isles of Chittim and see, send "unto Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there be "such a thing. Hath a nation changed its gods, which "are yet no gods;" but, among Protestants, men "have "changed their glory for that which doth not profit;" and put down the great God our Saviour among creatures and martyrs. "O my soul, come not thou into their secret, "unto their assembly mine honor be not thou united!"
Fifthly, The Lord our Righteousness died in the vigour of his strength. In dying men the voice is weak, and when the agonies of death are felt it cannot be heard. But the Son of God pronounced the word "finished," with an emphasis that raised songs in the heights of heaven, and howlings in the depths of hell; and, in the vigour of faith, and a tone of perfect composure, commended his spirit into the hand of his Father. His strength was not exhausted. His cry from the cross is not the groan of a disabled and wounded man; but the shout of the mighty and triumphant God. While all the bones of the suffering nature
*Jer. ii. 12.
were out of joint, and his heart melting, like wax, in the midst of his bowels; while his strength was dried up like a potsherd, and his tongue cleaving to his jaws, the Sufferer scattered with his dying voice the powers of darkness; and, in the greatness of his strength, dissolved the gates of hell and death. Could these be actions of a dying man, and doings of a patient martyr? Before this can be believed, reason, which ascribes operations to their principle, and effects to their cause, must be seized and muzzled; and the hand writing of inspiration, which reveals truth, and commands faith and obedience, blotted out and nailed to the tree.
Sixthly, The Son of God, in our nature, died for our sins, according to the scripture; and, according to the same scripture, died unto our sins. Dying for sin, and dying unto sin, are not convertible propositions. The terms are different, and their meaning is not the same.In the death of the Lord our Righteousness, these considerations are inseparable; but in scripture they are distinguished, and in our apprehensions should not be confounded. In dying for sin, he endured the punishment which the law denounced, and made atonement for the guilty, in whose stead he had substitued himself. In dying unto sin, he delivered himself from the charge of it by the law under which he suffered, and procured the dissolution of its dominion over his people; the destruction of the body of sin in them, and the restoration, or resurrection, of the principles of holiness in their souls, in all manner of conversation. Knowing this, that our old man is "crucified with him, that the body of sin might be de"stroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin: For be "that is dead is freed from sin. Now, if we be dead with "Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.-For in "that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he "liveth unto God." His death unto sin, and his life unto God, are sources and principles of sanctification. And the apostle, having discovered these to the church, begins an exhortation, unto which we do well to take heed: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed
unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our "Lord." Till ye begin, believers, to reckon yourselves in
*Rom. vi. 6, 7, 8, 10, 11.
this manner to be freed from the guilt, delivered fi reign, alienated from the love, and dead to the serv pleasure of sin, ye will not mortify it with success; ye begin to reckon yourselves, in this manner, in possession of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, and out of the reach of the reign of sin, the condemnation of the law, and the dominion of death, ye will not live unto righteousness, and walk in new obedience with pleasure, and joy, and largeness of heart.
Now ye have heard that the Son of God, who was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, died for our sins according to the scriptures; that his death is a ransom, and its effect is redemption; that it is a sacrifice, and its effect reconciliation; that it is a satisfaction, and its effect justification; that it is a victory, and its effect unspeakable joy; that it is a triumph, and its effect everlasting honour; that it is a destruction, and its effect complete salvation.Ye have heard that his death was honoured and magnified with the rending of the vail; the quaking of the earth; the tearing of rocks; the opening of graves; and with the convictions and acknowledgments of soldiers. And ye have heard that his death was an action of passive obedience; that it was universally admired and applauded among the principalities and powers of heaven; that it disconcerted and broke the policy of the gates of hell; that the extraor dinary circumstances which attended it roused the world to inquire into the mystery; that he was in the vigour of his strength when he yielded up the ghost upon the cross; and that, in dying for sin, he died unto it, and delivered himself from it.
Endeavour to recollect, and to fix these considerations in your memories; and pray for the influence of his spirit, to make them effectual unto the edifying of your souls.--They are means of increasing the knowledge of the Lord our Righteousness; mirrors in which his people behold the love and glory of God in his face; and motives to remember and to praise his death at his table. At this moment it is remembered and praised before the throne.-Among confirmed angels and redeemed spirits, songs are begun which will never end. These praises may be, and ought to be, sung beneath the throne; "Every creature "which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth,
"and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard "I saying, blessing and honor, and glory, and power, unto "him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for "ever and ever."*
Look to the death of the Son of God, evidently set before you, and behold,-Behold the tempter bruised; behold the curse executed; behold the world conquered; behold your old man crucified; behold the power of death dissolved, and the sting of death destroyed; behold heaven opened, and the throne of grace displayed; behold the perfections of God glorified, and the Lamb of God, that was slain, alive again, and reigning in the midst of the throne. With the glory of this object in your eye, fear not to draw near unto God; fear not to sit at the table of the Lord; and fear not to lie down in the dust of the earth. With the glory of this object in your eye, raise the song of Moses into the song of the Lamb; and, as you come to his table, say, "Sing unto the Lord; for he hath triumphed glori"ously," the devil and his angels he hath thrown into the bottom of hell. "The Lord is my strength and song, and "he is become my salvation. He is my God, and I will "prepare him an habitation; my fathers' God, and I will "exalt him. The Lord is a man of war. The Lord is his "name. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever, even thy "God, O Zion, throughout all generations."
But among hearers of the gospel, there are some who believe not, though preachers of it are not able to single out the persons. They do not deny that the Son of God, in our nature, died, revived, rose, and ascended; nor that they are guilty before God, liable to his wrath, and unable to save themselves. But, though these truths be denied in words by few who hear the gospel, by many they are not believed with the heart. Multitudes, taking salvation for a matter of common form among christians, never doubt of it, nor shew concern, until some bodily disease overtake them; and even then, while hope of recovery is not given up, salvation is not more attended to in their sickness than in their health. This negligence is highly offensive, and extremely dangerous. Salvation could be obtained at no lower expense than the obedience, sufferings, and death of the only begotten of the Father,
*Rev. v. 13.