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"and given him a name which is above every name: That "in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in "heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth, "and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is "Lord, to the glory of God the Father." In the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews another description of his person and glory appears, in terms equally sublime: "In "these last days God hath spoken to us by his Son, whom "he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he "made the worlds. Who, being the brightness of the glo"ry, and the express image of his person, and upholding all "things by the word of his power, when he had by himself "purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the ma"jesty on high. Being made so much better than the an"gels, as he hath, by inheritance, obtained a more excel"lent name than they." Knowledge of the person and glory of the Lord our Righteousness, is indispensably necessary, and universally interesting. Read these and other descrip tions of him in the holy scriptures over and over; commit them to memory, meditate on them frequently, and pray daily and fervently, that by them the spirit of wisdom and revelation may raise you unto full assurance of understanding in the mystery of his person and glory. Under appearances of a weak man, he was the mighty God, and able to subdue all things unto himself. Actions of his suffering nature were actions of his person, and filled hea ven and earth with the glory of his power.
These glorious actions which are recorded in our Text, it is now proposed to explain. In the record they stand in this order: He spoiled the adversaries; made a shew of them openly; and over them he triumphed.
First, The Lord our Righteousness, in the day of his power, spoiled his adversarics. This was not an action of violence and robbery, but of justice and strength. These principalities and powers were ambitious and revengeful enemies. Their plot was to make earth a province of hell, and bind its inhabitants to their interest, with chains of darkness. In the seduction of the representative of mankind, they triumphed; and being permitted, in virtue of the curse which the Lawgiver had denounced, to lay hold upon the power of death, they became formidable, held the world in bondage, and spread destruction and terror
through the creation. But of this power the Seed of the woman spoiled these destroyers. The curse of the law, which had placed it in their hands, being executed in his death, and the righteousness of the Lawgiver magnified and glorified, he wrested from them the keys of hell and death, bound their chains faster, laid them under heavier contributions to justice, and, by dying the death of a slave, obtained for all who were crucified with him deliverance from their oppression and tyranny. "Forasmuch then as "the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also "himself likewise took part of the same, that through "death he might destroy him that had the power of death, "that is the devil; and deliver them (the children) who "through fear of death were all their life-time subject to "bondage."* Read over again these precious words, and observe the nature and effect of that mysterious action upon the cross, in which principalities and powers were spoiled. To their chief it was destruction, and to millions of their slaves deliverance. The prince of the powers of darkness is not deprived of existence, and, as a spiritual being, destroyed out of the creation: His mouth is not shut, nor his licence to tempt and to roar withdrawn; but, as executioner of the curse, his power of death over the children is dissolved, and made void. The Captain of Salvation stripped and spoiled him of his power, hung the keys, the emblem of it, at his own girdle, and nailed to his cross the obligation, in law to the penal terror and power of death, in virtue of which the tyrant held the children in bondage. "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."
Secondly, In the day of his power, upon the cross, the Lord our Righteousness made a shew of his adversaries boldly and openly. In triumphal processions, illustrious captives of defeated armies and enslaved nations were led in chains before or behind the chariots of conquerors, and, in these humiliating circumstances, exposed to the vanity and pride of the public eye. By such exhibitions Rome displayed the haughtiness of its policy, and gratified the ambition of its heroes. From the pomp of imperial van
*Heb. ii. 14, 15.
†1 Cor. xv. 55, 56, 57.
ity we turn away to behold the show that was exhibited without the gates of Jerusalem. But where are the facts which justify, and authorise the allusion? The Sufferer appears not in a chariot, but on a cross surrounded with the guards of Rome, and scorned by the citizens of Zion and the priests of the temple. Thousands who came to that sight, smote their breasts, and returned as from a defeat.
Here we dismiss imagination, the creator of mental imagery, and, shutting the bodily eye, open toward the show that which is intellectual and spiritual. To this eye a shew appears real in its nature, and glorious in its effects. The sufferer is the mighty God in the nature of man, and likeness of sinful flesh, and to his piercing eye every province of the invisible world, with all its inhabitants, is naked and open. Principalities and powers of hell, and principalities and powers of heaven, are spiritual objects, invisible to our eyes, but visible to his. In the action on the cross, the former were assailants, and the latter were spectators. The ridicule which the assailants threw upon his Sonship, by their speakers, the objects of temptation which they presented to his holy imagination, and the wounds and bruises which they gave to his suffering nature, he felt and abhorred. But the triumphant Sufferer stood firm, and boldly, vigorously, and successfully resisted these abominable spirits, seized, disarmed, spoiled, chained, and openly made a shew of the whole host, to holy spectators of their own order, who over his cross raised the song of his incarnation, "Glory to God in the high"est, and on earth peace, good-will towards men!"*
Thirdly, In the day of his power, upon the cross, the Lord our Righteousness triumphed over his adversaries. Triumphs were exhibitions of military pomp, which celebrated the victories and conquests of commanders and heroes. When we turn toward the cross, nothing correspondent to these exhibitions of antiquity strikes the sensible eye. A suffering individual appears forsaken by God, and scorned by men, crowned with thorns, and covered with shame, lingering in torment, and dying apparently defeated. But turn to this mysterious object the intellectual and believing eye, and in his crucifixion behold a
*Luke ii. 14.
triumph in terrific pomp, similar to that in which a prophet exhibits a triumph in his administration: "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with died garments from Bozrah; "this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the great"ness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, migh"ty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and "thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat? I "have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people "there was none with me; for I will tread them in mine "anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood "shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all "my raiment. For the day of vengence is in mine heart, "and the year of my redeemed is come."*
When Jesus pronounced the word finished, yielded up the ghost, and left his dead body nailed to the tree, men fled as from the cry of a defeat, and the ruin of an enterprize. But heaven, earth, and hell, felt differently. Heaven opened and smiled, the throne of grace appeared, and displayed the beauties of holiness; every morning star sang, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Earth trembled, rocks rent, graves of dead men opened, and the secret chamber of the God of Israel tore its own vail, and shewed to the priests his awful glory in the holy of holies. The whole host of principalities and powers was confounded, the chains of darkness were rivetted, the lake of fire was heated seven times, and the whole face of hell inflamed with the wrath of the fury of the Lamb.
The triumph in the crucifixion is not the exhibition of a single day, nor a blaze breaking out, and disappearing at the conquest and dissolution of the gates of hell. In promises, sacrifices, prophecies, figures, and types, there was a display of his power and glory, before the triumph of his death; and after it, till the mystery of God be finished, there will be a display of his power and glory in the face of the world, by the ministry of reconciliation. "Now thanks be "unto God, who leadeth us always about triumphantly in "Christ; and maketh manifest the saviour of his knowledge
by us in every place." Seized on the high way, with enmity in his heart and arms in his hand, and reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Paul was among some illustrious trophies of the victory of the cross, which God led
*Isa. lxiii. 1, 2, 3, 4.
†2 Cor. ii. 14,
in triumph through the world, and one of the illustrious proofs of its efficacy, in prevailing over the powers of darkness; by which he confounded the wisdom of the wise, and brought to nothing the understanding of the prudent. The triumph of the ministry of reconciliation over the kingdom of Satan in the world, is a continuation of the triumph in the crucifixion, and derives vigor from it every day, and every where, to deliver men from the power of darkness, and translate them into the kingdom of God's dear Son. This triumph of the power of the Son of God over the ambition and insolencies of his adversaries, began in paradise, where his crucifixion was proclaimed in the ear of the destroyer, and where his conquests began, and exhibitions of it will continue, in the midst of his enemies, till his conquests be completed, his enemies made his footstool, and all things in earth and heaven reconciled unto God by the blood and power of his cross. Nor should we suppose that this reconciliation will be the end of his triumph. The exhibition which filled the earth with glory will ascend into heaven, draw upon him the eyes of redeemed men and confirmed angels, and extend the praise of his glory the whole length of eternity..
A mysteriousness, which may be observed in these ope rations, is the last head of our method. The Lord our Righteousness spoiled his adversaries, made a shew of them, and triumphed in what-in it, saith our text. Whether "cross,' the tree on which he performed these operations, er himself, the person by whose power they were performed, be the term for which this It is substituted, the meaning is not ambiguous. Under each consideration, the operations are mysterious, and some particulars concerning their mystery and glory may be considered.
First, The field of action is a territory which scripture hath marked with mysterious precision. Some great actions derive part of their fame from places where they were done. The victory of Israel over Egypt, is signalized by the Red-sea; the power of the ark over Dagon, by the temple of Ashdod; the fall of Gog and Magog, by the mountains of God; and the triumphs of the Lord our Righteousness, by the place of skulls. The holy writers appear anxious to draw the attention of the world to this place, and express its name in different languages, calling.