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2 TIMOTHY, I. 10.
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light, through the Gospel.
It is the glory of Christianity, that it not only
affords consolation under the severest evils in life, but turns them into occasions of confidence and joy. The Gospel can furnish motives to support us under affliction, it can alleviate the grief occasioned by separation from the dearest relatives. It can render the sufferings and deaths of the faithful an additional inducement to their surviving friends to persevere in the obedience of Christ. It can even enable us to rejoice in tribulation, and to triumph over the victory of the grave.
This is the sentiment of the Apostle in the
text. He is encouraging Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of him his prisoner, but to be a partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel, according to the power of God. And one of the arguments which he urges is, the consideration of that conquest over death, and that glorious assurance of life and immortality, which the appearing of our Saviour Christ has made manifest.
This is, then, the subject which we have to consider; a topic full of consolation under the heaviest sorrow for the death of the departed servants of God; a topic, therefore, not inappropriate to an occasion like the present, where the sudden removal of an eminent and revered individual from the midst of us, has filled every heart with sadness.
Let us direct our attention:
I. TO THE SAVIOUR'S TRIUMPH, AS RECORDED
IN THE TEXT.
II. TO THE MOTIVE WHICH THAT TRIUMPH
FURNISHES TO UNFAILING OBEDIENCE.
After some observations on these points, we shall be at liberty to proceed to the particular example of the distinguished person I have mentioned, as illustrating and confirming the truth of what we have advanced.
I. The TRIUMPH of our DIVINE SAVIOUR is
twofold; the most powerful enemy overthrown; the most transcendant benefit attained-who hath abolished death; and hath brought life and immortality to light, through the Gospel.
1. Death is the fearful tyrant who reigns over man as a transgressor. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. Here is the empire and the mystic power of death. We are all offenders against Almighty God. We have broken his holy law. The sentence is already passed. The wages of sin is death and the chastisement is commensurate with the crime. Death hath passed on all men, for that all are sinners. What, in fact, is the world but a field of desolation? Where is it that pain, sickness, suffering, are not hurrying men towards the tomb? Tell me the province, the family, the heart, where the anguish and consternation that belong to scenes of mortality are strangers. Point out to me the spot, if you can, where the cruel rule of death is suspended. Show me the frontiers of his dark dominion. Alas, while we recall to memory the affecting privations which we have so repeatedly, so recently witnessed, in our own circles, and then extend our view to our neighbourhoods, our country, and mankind, we are ready to sink under one gloomy, unbroken impression of mortality. Who can view without dismay the
varied sorrows, the heart-rending separations, the bitter despair, which death, unrelenting death, occasions? Look into that opening tomb-the father and the child-the husband and the wife-the young and the aged, are crowded into one remorseless sepulchre.
But this is little. For, O the unutterable woes of that everlasting death which sin has incurred separation from God, the fountain of bliss-the chain of eternal darkness-the worm that never dieth and the fire that never is quenched -the body and soul, through a measureless and inconceivable eternity, condemned to pains without limit, and without alleviation!
For a desolation so extensive, so tremendous, what remedy shall be found? Revelation furnishes the answer. Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord. Yes, my brethren, a voice of mercy resounds from on high. The eternal Son of God hath become man to redeem us from death. He hath encountered our deadly foe. He hath grappled with the insatiate destroyer, and hath prevailed. By his own obedience unto death he hath accomplished a sacrifice of inestimable price; he hath stood in our place; he hath borne our sins in his own body on the tree; he hath, by death, destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. Sin, the force and power of this dreadful adversary, is overcome,
pardon for it obtained, grace to subdue it purchased; and thus the cause, the strength of death being removed, the monster himself is weakened, is made void, is in the proper sense of the term abolished. Our blessed Redeemer hath blotted out the hand-writing which was against us, which was contrary to us, and hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to his cross— there is the sentence of condemnation reversed to every true Christian; and this being expunged, Christ hath, in the most glorious manner, spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. And now the Christian combatant may join the Apostle and say, The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The faithful, indeed, have still to pass through the valley of the shadow of death; but with this remarkable difference, that now they need fear no evil. It is the semblance of power which death retains, rather than the reality. The terror is removed. The eternal separation from God and goodness is to be dreaded no longer. Its consequences-the eternity of woe, which sin deserved, are prevented, repealed, annihilated. To die is now only to sleep in Jesus, in order to awake to joy and felicity: it is now only to put off a garment of disgrace,