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to display, in a very awful manner, God's abhorrence of sin, and may thereby be the means of good to any other beings in the universe, still remaining in a probationary state.
It may be asked, perhaps, whether the wicked are not as completely put under the feet of Christ, at death, as they will be at the resurrection ? I answer, they are not, for two reasons; 1. They are not so universally conquered at that time. Although some of the enemies of Christ are continually falling before him, yet as there is an amazing host still remaining, still continuing on the earth, it cannot, with much propriety, be said, that all things are put under his feet. 2. Another reason, why it cannot be said, in the most perfect sense, of the wicked, that they are put under the feet of Christ, before the resurrection, is, that although they begin to experience their punishment at death, it will not be dealt out to the full, until the resurrection. They are now, to use St. Peter's language, under chains of darkness, reserved unto judgment. Their punishment, we have reason to suppose, is not only less severe, but less conspicuous, less evident to the universe, than it will be, when the judgment is passed. The whole universe will then be called to witness the righteous sentence of the Almighty. All beings will be called together, to notice the complete victory of Christ, over his enemies, and the fury which lie will render to his adversaries.
But not only sinners of the human race, but devils also, shall, after the resurrection, experience more fully, the power of Christ. The words which we have used from St. Peter : Reserved under chains of darkness, to the judgment of the great day, were originally applied to them. The devils are now, in some sense, let loose upon the world. We have reason to think that infernal influence is continually exerted. Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, saith the Apostle, seeking whom he may devour. , It is true, indeed, that he is under the control of God, yet we know, that his exertions are extensive, and his success lamentably great. The human heart in its state of degeneracy, is but too ready to comply with the enemy's temptations.
And what a large proportion of mankind choose rather to be subjects of the prince of darkness, than of the Prince of light and peace! But it shall not be so forever. Christ will reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. And if the seventy disciples could say, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us, through thy name ; much more shall these infernal agents be disarmed and confined, at the day of judgment. They shall no more deceive the nations. They shall be cast into that dreary prison, which was, in a peculiar sense, prepared for them. They will suffer the effects of divine wrath, without ever enjoying the malicious pleasure of making any further addition to the number of those wretched beings, whom their wiles have ruined. Thus will the great Redeemer reign, till he has put down all rule, authority, and power. The Lord said unto my lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies, thy footstool. The power of Christ will be extolled in heaven above, and acknowledged in hell beneath. In the regions above, shall be the whole assembly of sanctified ones, who have voluntarily submitted to Christ, and chosen his government. In the regions below, will those be collected, who rejected this man from reigning over them, and who must therefore live, as the desperate objects of God's displeasure.
And, now there is one very obvious reflection, which presents itself to us, viz. that we ourselves must, in some way, be reduced to the footstool of Christ. He will reign; and we must in some sense be subject to his government. We must either be brought to render to him a willing obedience, or be crushed beneath the weight of his power. We may for a while rebel against the light, choose our own ways, and put divine wisdom far from us,-we may give no attention to all the remonstrances and invitations of Christ, but with great obstinacy reject his proposals of grace. Notwithstanding this, all the enemies of Christ, and we, if we continue of that number, must fall before him.
Never was a warfare so desperate, as that which sinners maintain against the laws and empire of Christ. There is no possible chance of its terminating in their success. They know that they must yield at last. There is no comparison,-there is no proportion between the feebleness of man, and that mighty power, by which all things were created : and yet all things were made by Christ ; he possesses this power, and every persevering sinner, must seel the weight of it. Besides all this, the longer, and more obstinately the combat is maintained, the more signal and striking will be the victory of Christ over his enemies. According to their haughtiness, obstinacy, and perseverance, will be the dishonor, degradation, and ruin to be heaped upon them. Whatever be the rank and quality of sinners, it will be of no consideration in this view. However great may have been their talents, and extensive their influence; -how illustrious soever they may have been, in the eyes of the world, it will make no difference. The greatest, the wisest, and most powerful sinner in the world, is as easily brought into shame and everlasting contempt, as the poorest beggar, that ever lived on charity. Whatever be your station, influence, or character, Christ will, in some way, rule over you. ir not consent that he should reign in your hearts, he will rule you with a rod of iron, and dash you in pieces like a potter's vessel.
But opposition to Christ is not more dangerous, than it is unreasonable. Why should we not submit to that King, whom
. God has placed on his holy bill of Zion? What do we find in his commands and requirements, which is not perfectly wise and reasonable? Is it not rational that we should love a perfect being ? a being infinitely good, infinitely wise, and holy? Is it not certain that all the laws, enacted by such a being, ought to be obeyed ? Surely the Creator has a right to the services of his creatures. It is right that we should take pleaure in praying to God and giving thanks to him, in communing with him, and in considering his character and government, and it is equally right that we should subrnit to God, and say from our hearts : Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. It is not God's
ways, but ours, that are unequal. The whole disagreement has not arisen from any thing wrong, on the part of God ;-—the guilt is entirely our own; we are the criminal party.
And as to the condition of pardon revealed by Christ, in the Gospel ; after all wbich has been done and suffered by him, that the aggravated crimes of rebellious men might be forgiven, can it be thought unreasonable, that we should be required to exercise humility, to confess our want of pardoning grace,-repent of sins which are past, and give ourselves up in future to the divine will ?
Again : Why should we dread the empire of Christ? Why should we look with abhorrence on that state of the heart, which he requires? Do we well in calling the proud happy? Does the heart feel solid pleasure, in lifting itself up against God? Is there lasting comfort and peace of mind in the breast of him who is too proud to submit to the Gospel and to supplicate mercy through a crucified Saviour ? So far from this, there is no created being, in the universe, who can be happy without humility. The Christian finds no moments so happy as those in which he feels most inclined to exalt God, and abase himself; to forget himself, and fix his eyes on the unspotted purity of his Maker. It is delightful; it is a kind of spiritual luxury, to prostrate himself, overwhelmed with a sense of his own unworthiness, before the great and holy Governor of the universe. It must necessarily be a very fearful and distressing consideration, to be at enmity with him, in whose power we are, and on whom depends our destiny forever. For the same reason, there must be unspeakable comfort and solid joy in a total surrender of the heart to this infinitely glorious being; and in a conscious willingness to obey his laws, and submit to his empire.
It is the delight of glorified saints, and the joy of angels, to shrink, and as it were diminish themselves before the unspeakable majesty of God.
But, my hearers, if we desire to partake in this happiness, our submission to Christ must begin here on earth ; the kingdom of Christ must be now established in our hearts. He who
dies with an unsubdued, rebellious heart, will never, throughout eternity, submit to God. That heart will be self-tormented; it will feel the immortal worm, and the fire unquenchable. Behold his soul, that is lifted up, is not right within him. We must be humbled, and despairing of help within ourselves ; we must embrace that mercy, which the Gospel holds forth. We must submit to the righteousness of faith ; receive Christ as our atoning High Priest, as our lostructor and King. If we would not be put under his feet in anger, and be trampled in his fury, we must now lay hold on his strength, while his sceptre of grace is extended towards us. There is no safety in this rebellion, for a single day. It cannot be maintained, but at the peril and hazard of the soul. Every thing is wrong, every thing is in danger while we are enemies to God, by wicked works. May God subdue our hearts by his grace, that we may delight in the empire of Christ, and be, through eternity, the monuments of his goodness.