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fies, he also glorifies. And even now in this life, though it doth not yet appear what they shall be, though their privileges are far short of what they hope for, ' and though eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor bath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared for them ;'* yet even now are they' the children of God.'t And in the midst of their trials and infirmi. ties, though conscious of much defect, and many defilements, in their best hours and services ; and though they have not forgotten their iniquities and provocations, when they lived without God in the world; yet, according to the measure of their faith, exercised upon their Saviour who was raised for their justification, they can rejoice in the knowledge of their acceptance, and rely upon him for their perseverance ; and they dare approach the greatg' holy, and heart-searching God, as to a Father, and pour out their hearts before him, with greater freedom than they can use to their dearest earthly friends. And, while they feel and confess themselves unworthy of the smallest of his mercies, they are not afraid to ask for the greatest blessings his bounty can bestow, even to be set as a seal upon his heart, and upon his arm, to be filled with all his communicable tulness, and to claim him as their everlasting portion.
2. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is a pledge and specimen of that almighty power which is engaged on their behalf, to overcome all the obstacles, difficulties, and enemies they are liable to meet with in their pilgrimage, which threaten to disappoint their hopes, and to prevent them from obtaining their heavenly inheritance. The first communication of a principle of faith and spiritual life to their hearts, whereby they are delivered from the dominion of sin, and from the spirit and love of the world, is attributed to the exceeding greatness of that mighty power' which raised the dead body of their Lord from the grave, and set him at bis own right hand, far above all principality and might, and every name that is named.' And often the church, collectively, in its militant state, and the individuals which compose it, in their personal concerns, have been brought, to outward appearance, exceeding low. Their enemies have seemed upon the point of triumphing, and saying, down with them, even to the ground. Such was the boast of the Jewish ruJers, when they had slain the Shepherd, and dispersed his flock. But it was a short-lived boast. He arose, he ascended, be took possession of his kingdom for himself and for them. He poured out his Holy Spirit upon them, and they went forth preaching his word, which spread, like the light of advancing day, from
f 1 John, äii. 2.
* 1 Cor. ii. 9. Vol. III.
1 Eph. i. 19-21.
Judea to Samaria, and to the distant parts of the earth. The united force of the powers of hell and earth endeavoured to suppress it, but in vain. Many nations and kingdoms laboured to extirpate the very name of Christianity from among men, but they successively perished in the attempt; and the cause against which they raged is still preserved. It is founded upon a rock; and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.'* Nor can any weapon prosper that is formed against the weakest and meanest of those who sincerely espouse this cause. He to whom they have devoted and intrusted themselves, has promised, that none shall pluck them out of his hands.'t And while he remains faithful to his word, and able to fulfil it, they shall be safe. Yet they are often pressed above measure, beyond strength, insomuch that they, perhaps, despair even of life. But when they are at the lowest, the Lord is their helper ; and they are taught, by the exigences they pass through, to trust, not in themselves, but in God who raised the dead.'f It is, indeed, the Lord's usual method of training up his people to an habitual dependence upon himself. . When he has raised their expectations by his promises, he permits, as it were, a temporary death to overcloud their prospect ; and that which he has said he will surely do for them, appears, for a season, to the judgment of sense, impracticable and hopeless. We might illustrate this point at large from the history of Abraham, of Israel in Egypt, of David, and of the rebuilding of the second temple ; and I doubt not but it might be illustrated from the history of many in this assembly. If you have been walking with God for any considerable time, you have met with turns and changes which have almost put you to a stand. You have been, and perhaps now are, in such circumstances that you feel
you have no resource in yourself, and you are sure that the help of man cannot relieve you ; "but while your help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth,' and while you are warranted to trust in him, ' who raiseth the dead, you have no just reason to despond. It was a dark season with the disciples, when their Lord, whom they loved, and in whom they trusted, that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel, was condemned, and put to death. But the appointed third day relieved their fears, and turned their mourning into joy.
3. His resurrection is the pledge and pattern of ours. As certainly as Christ, the first-fruits, is risen, so certainly shall they that are Christ's arise at his coming. And each of his people shall arise, aliusque et idem. I Their bodies, though properly
*Matth. xvi. 18. || Luke, xxiv, 20, 21,
7 John, x. 28. | 2 Cor. i. 9.
Another and yet the same,
Psalm, cxxiv. &.
their own, shall be changed, and fashioned like unto his glorious body.'* This corruptible must put on incorruption; and the body, which is sown in dishonour and weakness, be raised in power and glory.
Flesh and blood, in its present state, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The body, in this life, is a clog and a burden to those who place their chief happiness in the service of God, and in communion with him. It is a vile body, defiled by sin, and it defiles their best desires and noblest efforts. Even the grace of the Holy Spirit, by which they live, though perfectly pure in itself, is debased, when communicated to them, and exercised under the disadvantages of a sinful nature, as the best wine will receive a taint, if poured into a foul vessel. The body, in another view, is a prison, in which the soul, confined and pent up, is limited in its operations, and impeded in its perceptions of divine things. Though we are probably surrounded by the glorious realities of the spiritual world, only short and transient glances of them are discoverable by us ; we see but by reflection, and darkly ;t we know but in part, and should know nothing of them, but for the good report of the word of God. Further, the body, as it is the seat of innumerable, infirmities, and the medium which connects us with the calamities incident to this mortal state, is often a great hindrance to our most desirable enjoyments. Pain and sickness call off the attention, and indispose our faculties, when we wish to be most engaged in prayer ; detain us from the ordinances, or prevent the pleasure we hope for in waiting upon the Lord in them. But our new, spiritual, and glorified bodies, will be free from all defilement or defect. . They will be completely qualified to answer the best wishes and most enlarged activity of the soul. Then, but not till then, we hope to be all eye, all ear, always upon the wing in his service, and perfectly conformed to his image, in light, holiness, and love ; for then we • shall see him as he is,' without any interposing veil or cloud. I
* Phil. ii. 21
* 1 Cor. xiii. 12
$ 1 John, iii. 2
THE ASCENSION OF MESSIAH TO GLORY.
PSALM, xxiv, 7–10.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the
King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in batlle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates,
them up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.
The institutions of the Levitical law were a shadow or sketch of good things to come. They exhibited a faint and general outline of the mediation and glory of MESSIAH. They may be compared to the delicate engravings on a seal, the beauty and proportions of which cannot be plainly discerned without the assistance of a glass. The Gospel answers to such a glass. Beheld through this medium, the miniature delineations of the law, which to the eye of unassisted, unhumbled reason, appear confused and insignificant, display a precision of arrangement in the parts, and an importance of design in the whole, worthy the wisdom of their great Author.
Froin the similarity of the subject of this Psalm and the sixtyeighth, it is at least probable that they were both composed upon the same occasion, the removal of the ark of the Lord, from its last stationary residence, to its fixed abode in Zion; when the king, the priests, the singers, and the harpers, all assisted in the procession, attended by a great concourse of the people. The language of the latter part of the Psalm is evidently alternate. And we may conceive, that when the ark approached the tabernacle, the priests and Levites who accompanied it, demanded admittance for it in these words, ' Lift up your heads, O ye gates,' &c. and were answered by those who were waiting within to receive it, 'Who is the King of glory ? To which question the proper reply is made, · The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory.'
This, if taken according to the letter of the history, was a grand and solemn transaction. But it was, at the same time, a type of an event unspeakably more glorious. They who know that the Scriptures of the Old Testament testify of Christ, that it is
he of whom Moses in the Law, David in the Psalms, and all the succeeding prophets did write, will, I think, agree in considering this passage as referring to his ascension, in the nature in which he suffered, into the holy place in the heavens, as the representative and High Priest of his people; when, after having by bis own-self purged our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Then having spoiled principalities and powers, he triumphed over them openly, though not in the view of mortal eyes. He lifted up his hands, and blessed his apostles, and while in this attitude he was parted from them.* He ascended gently and gradually, and they, admiring and adoring, beheld him with fixed attention, till a cloud concealed him from their sight.'+ The pomp and triumph of his ascension were displayed in the invisible world. But this description, accommodated to our apprehensions, is given to assist the faith of his people ; that their hearts may be comforted, their meditations enlarged, and that, in the exercise of grateful love, they may follow him in their thoughts, ascend with him into heavenly places, and rejoice in his glory.
We conceive of him, therefore, from this sublime passage, as ascending to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God, accompanied with a train of worshipping angels, who demand admittance for MESSIAH, the Saviour and friend of sinners, as the King of glory. The question is asked, who is he that claims this honour ? An answer is given, asserting his character, bis victories, and the justice of his claims~ The Lord of hosts, the Lord, strong in battle, he is the King of glory.'
The principal points which offer to our consideration are, 1. His title, The Lord of hosts.'
IJ. His victories, implied in the expression, The Lord, strong and mighty in battle.'
III. His mediatorial title, The King of glory.'
I. Messial, who humbled himself to the death of the cross, is "the Lord of hosts.' He is so, if the Scripture be true: I attempt no other proof. This is a point not referred to the discussion of our fallen reason, but proposed by the authority of God in his word, as the foundation of our faith and hope. He is the husband of the church, and the husband of the church is the Lord of Hosts. It was the Lord of hosts who Isaiah saw seated upon a throne, his train filling the temple. The vision filled him with astonishment, and he cried out, Wo is me, I am undone ; for mine eyes have seen the Lord of hosts. But the apostle John
* Luke, xxiv. 51.
+ Acts, i. 9.
Isa. liv. 3.
Isa, vi. 1.