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3. How far our assurance is solid, may be estimated by the effects. It will surely make us humble, spiritual, peaceful, and patient. I pity those who talk confidently of their hope, as if they were out of the reach of doubts and fears, while their tempers are unsanctified, and their hearts are visibly attached to the love of the present world. I fear they know but little of what they say. I am better pleased when persons of this character complain of doubts and darkness. It proves, at least, that they are not destitute of feeling, nor, as yet, lulled into a spirit of careless security. And there are professors, whom, instead of endeavouring to comfort in their present state, I would rather wish to make still more suspicious of themselves than they are; till they are convinced of the imposibility of enjoying true peace while their hearts are divided between God and the world. For though sanctification is not the ground of a good hope, it is the certain concomitant of it. If it be true, 'that without holiness no man shall see the Lord,** it must likewise be true, that without holiness no man can have a Scriptural and well-founded hope of seeing him.
4. But to give a direct answer to the inquiry, How shall I know that he is my Redeemer? I may use the prophet's words, 'Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to know the Lord.'+ Our names are not actually inserted in the Bible, but our characters are described there. He is the Redeemer of all who put their trust in him. You will not trust in him, unless you feel your need of him; you cannot, unless you know him as he is revealed in the word; you do not, unless you love him, and are devoted to his cause and service. If you know yourself to be a sinner deserving to perish, if you see there is no help or hope for you but in Jesus, and venture yourself upon his gracious invitation, believing that he is able to save to the uttermost; and if you include holiness and a deliverance from sin in the idea of the salvation which you long for, then he is your Redeemer. If, among us, an act of grace was published, inviting all criminals to surrender themselves, with a promise of mercy to those who did; though no one was mentioned by name in the act, yet every one who complied with it, and pleaded it, would be entitled to the benefit. Such an act of grace is the Gospel. The Lord says This is my beloved Son, hear him.' If you approve him, he is yours. If you are still perplexed with doubts, they are owing to the weakness of your faith. But there are means appointed for the growth of faith. Wait patiently upon the Lord in the use of those means, and you shall find he has not not bid you seek + Mark, ix. 7.
*Heb. xii. 14.
+ Hos. vi. S.
his face in vain. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Live not in the omission of known duty. Do not perplex yourself with vain reasonings, but believe and obey, and the Lord shall be with you. There are some peculiar cases. Allowances must be made for the effects of constitution and temperament. Some sincere persons are beset and followed, through life, with distressing temptations. But in general, simplicity and obedience lead to assurance. And they who hearken to the Lord, and walk in the way of his commandments, go on from strength to strength,'* their peace and hope increase, like a river, which from small beginnings, runs broader and deeper, till it falls into the ocean. But to return to Job :
III. Another article of his creed concerning the Redeemer, is, 'He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth.' The latter or last days, in the prophetical style, usually denote the MESSIAH'S day, the times of the Gospel. To this time Job looked forward. He beheld the promises afar off. Thus MESSIAH was the consolation of his people of old, as he who was to come. And it should be our consolation, to know that he is come. His standing upon the earth may include the whole of his appearance in the flesh his life, passion, and resurrection. The manner of expression intimates something important and wonderful. Had Job, in the spirit of prophecy, spoken of any individual of Adam's race, of Isaiah, or Paul, there would have been nothing extraordinary predicted by saying he shall stand upon the earth, for all men do so in their successive generations. But that the Redeemer, the Lord of glory, the Maker of all things, should condescend to visit his creatures, to dwell with men for a season, to stand and walk upon the earth with them, clothed in a body like their own, is an event which never could have been expected, if it had not been revealed from heaven. It was the object of Job's faith, and well deserving the solemn preface with which he introduces his firm persuasion of it, 'Oh! that my words were graven with an iron pen in the rock for ever! When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord of hosts, instead of admiring the magnificence of the building, he was struck with the condescension of the Lord, who would vouchsafe to notice it, and honour it with a symbol of his presence. 'Will God indeed dwell with
men upon the earth? Behold the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, how much less this house which I have built! But what was the visible glory which appeared in that temple, if compared with the glory of the only begotten Son of God, when he tabernacled in our flesh! The human nature of Christ is that
*Psalm lxxxiv. 7.
† 1 Kings, viii. 27.
true temple, not made with hands, in which God is manifested upon a throne of grace, that sinners may approach him without dismay, and receive, out of his fulness, grace for grace. To him all the prophets gave witness: on him the desire and hope of his people, in all ages, have been fixed He was to stand upon the earth, as Mediator between God and man. And in the same office, now he is upon the throne of glory; he is, and will be, admired, adored, and trusted in, by all his believing people, to the end of time.
IV. From the Redeemer's appearance upon earth, Job infers the restoration and resurrection of his own body. His trials had been great-bereaved of his children and substance, afflicted with grievous biles, harassed with temptations, reproached by his friends out of all these troubles the Lord his Redeemer delivered him, and his latter days were more prosperous than his beginning. But he knew that he must go the way of all the earth, that his body must lie in the grave, and return to dust. But he expected a future time after his dissolution, when in the flesh, for himself, and with his own eyes, he should see God. The expressions are strong and repeated. He does not speak the language of hesitation and doubt, but of confidence and certainty. It likewise appears that he placed his ultimate happiness in seeing God. His words are not very different from those of the apostle,' When he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.'* To behold the glory of God, as our Redeemer, to be in a state of favour and communion with him, and, according to the utmost capacity of our nature, to be conformed to him in holiness and love, is that felicity which God has promised, and to which all his servants aspire. Some foretastes of it they enjoy in the present life, which cheer them under their trials, and raise them above the grovelling pursuits of those who have their portion only in this world. But their chief possession is in hope. They look forward to a brighter period, when they shall awaken from the sleep of death, to behold his face in righteousness.' Then, and not till then, they shall be completely satisfied. The expectation of Job, therefore, affords a sufficient proof that the doctrines of an immortal state, and of a resurrection unto life, were included in the revelations which God afforded to his people in the earliest times; and, consequently, that the religion of the Old Testament and of the New is substantially the same.
The great inquiry this subject should impress upon us, is, Are we thus minded? What think you, my dear friends, of Christ? Have you accepted him as your Redeemer? and have you a
1 John, iii. 2.
Psalm xvii. 15.
good hope that you shall see him to your comfort, when he shall return to judge the world? If so, you may rejoice. Changes you must expect. You must die, and your flesh must be food for worms. But he has promised to change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty power whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself."*
THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED.
1 CORINTHIANS, XV. 20.
But now the Lord is risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
As, in the animal economy, the action of the heart and of the lungs, though very different, are equally necessary for the maintenance of life, and we cannot say that either of them is more essentially requisite than the other; so, in the system of divine revelation, there are some truths, the knowledge and belief of which, singly considered, are fundamentals with respect to the salvation of a sinner. And though they are distinct in themselves, we cannot determine which of them is of most importance to us; for, unless we know, approve, and receive them all, we can have no experience of a life of faith in the Son of God. Such, for instance, is the Scriptural doctrine concerning the depravity of human nature. This is a first principle; for unless we understand what our state is in the sight of God, the enormity of our transgressions, and our incapacity for true happiness until our hearts are changed by the power of his grace, we cannot rightly understand a single chapter in the Bible. Such, likewise, is the doctrine of the atonement. For if we could know how totally we are lost, without knowing the gracious method which God has appointed for our recovery, we must unavoidably sink into despair. Again, if we were sensible of our state as sinners, and even if we trusted in Christ for salvation, yet the apostle observes in this chapter, that unless he be indeed risen from the dead, our faith in him would be in vain, and we should
* Phil. iii. 21,
still be in our sins. The resurrection of Christ, therefore, is a doctrine absolutely essential to our hope and comfort; and it is likewise a sure pledge, that they who believe in him shall be raised from the dead also, by virtue of their union with him, and according to his pattern. For now is Christ risen from the dead, and is become the first fruits of them that slept.' Let us at present consider his resurrection. The sure consequence of it, that his people shall be raised from the dead, will offer to our meditations from the following verses.
The resurrection of Christ being, as a fact, the great pillar upon which the weight and importance of Christianity rest; it has pleased the Lord to put the indubitable proof of it within our power. There is no one point of ancient uninspired history so certainly and unquestionably authenticated. It may seem unnecessary to prove it, and to many of you it is entirely so. Yet I think it proper to take some notice of it; not so much on account of the weak and trifling cavils of infidels, as for the sake of persons who may be assaulted with temptations. For many plain people, who are not much acquainted with the subtilties of sceptics, are sometimes pestered with difficulties and objections in their own minds, perhaps more shrewd and powerful than such as are commonly found in books, or retailed in coffee-houses. For unbelief is deeply rooted in every heart; and Satan, our great enemy, can, and if permitted will, work powerfully upon this evil disposition. He endeavours to beat us off from the belief of every truth of Scripture, and of this among the rest. And many persons, who have been so well convinced that our Lord rose from the dead as to venture their souls and their all upon it, have found themselves at a loss how to answer the enemy in an hour of sharp and pressing temptation.
Let us suppose, then, that we had lately received the news of some extraordinary and almost incredible event, and let us consider what evidence we should require to satisfy us that the report was true, and apply the same kind of reasoning to the point in hand. That there was, a great while ago, a person named Jesus who gathered disciples, and died upon a cross, is universally acknowledged. Both Jews and Heathens, who lived at the time and afterwards, not only admitted it, but urged it as a reproach against his followers. Many testimonies of this kind are still extant.
The turning point between his enemies and his friends is his resurrection. This has been denied. We acknowledge that he did not appear publicly after he arose, as he did before his death, but only to a competent number of his followers, to whom he showed himself, and satisfied them, by many infallible proofs, VOL III.