« AnteriorContinuar »
for us, at this Time, to apply our Meditations to.
My Work, therefore, at this Time, shall be to give some Account of the Power of Christ's Resurrection, in order to the making Men good, which the Apostle here speaks of; to shew how, or in what Respects it doth influence upon the Lives of Chriftians.
Now if we look into the Holy Scriptures, we shall find, that there is a Four.fold Power attributed to it, or that it hath an Influence upon our Lives, in these Four Respects; That is to say,
I. As it lays an Obligation upon Christians to Holines and Vertue.
II. As it is the Principal Evidence of the Truth of our Religion, the Design of which is to make Men Holy and Vertuous.
III. As it is the great Support of our future Hopes, or our Hopes of another Life; which, indeed, is the main Encouragement we have to apply ourselves seriously to the Business of Holines and Vertue.
IV. And Fourthly, As to it we do principally owe all that supernatural Grace and Strength, by which we are enabled to live Holily and Vertuously. Of thefe Four Points, I Thall discourse very briefly.
1. And First of all, our Saviour's Refurrection hath an Influence upon our Pradice, as it lays an Obligation upon Christians to lead Holy and Vertuous Lives; As it is in itself an Incitement to Piety, and Heavenly-Mindedness.
This is, indeed, the lowest Instance of its Power; but yet we ought not to pass it by, because the Writers of the New Testament, do frequently insist on it: For thus they argue ;
İf Christ was crucified for our Sins ; then ought we to crucify them in our Members. And if Christ rose again the Third Day; then are we engaged, in Conformity to him, to rise again to Newness of Life, to lead a Spiritual, Divine, Heavenly Life, such a Life as he now lives with God.
And this, in the ancient Times, was taught every Christian in and by his Baptism. Whenever a Person was Baptized, he was not only to profess his Faith in Christ's Death and Resurrection, but he was also to look upon himself as obliged in Correspondence therewith, to mortify his former carnal Affections, and to enter upon a new State of Life. And the very Form of Baptism did lively represent this Obligation to them. For what did their being plung'd under Water signify, but their Undertaking, in Imitation of Christ's Death and Burial, to forsake all their former Evil Courses: As their ascending out of the Water did their Engagement to lead a Holy, Spiritual Life? This our Apostle doth more than once declare to us.
Thus, Rom. vi. 4. We are buried (faith he) with Christ by Baptism unto Death, that like as Christ was raised up from the Dead, by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in Newneß of Life. Thus again in the roth and Ilth Verses of that Chapter, In that Chrift
died, he died unto Sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God: likewile reckon ye yourselves to'be dead indeed unto Sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord: That is to says After the Example of Christ's Death and Re. surrection, account ye yourselves oblig'd to die to Sin, and to live to Righteousness.
Lastly, To name no more Texts, the same Use doth the Apostle make of Christ's Resurrection, in Coloff. 3. 1, 2. If ye then (faith he) be rijen with Christ, seek those Things which are above, where Chrift" sitteth at the Right Hand of God, i. e. You by entring into the Christian Covenant; are incorporated into Chrift; He is your Head, you are his Members; and therefore, since he no longer leads a Life of this World, it will by no means become you to live like Worldlings or Epicures; but being risen with him (as the Members ought to do with the Head) to mind those Things that are above, where he is, to set your Affections (as he goes on) on the Things above, and not on the Things of the Earth. For ye are dead, and your Life is hid with Christ in God.
These Things plainly shew, that the Apostles delivered the Doctrine of Christ's Resurrection, as a Practical Doctrine; as a Point, which if Christians believed as they should do, it would ingage them to mortifie their Lusts, to die to the World, to place their Affection on Spiritual Things, to have their Conversations in Heaven where Christ our Head, our Life, now sits at the Right Hand of God.
II. Great II. Great will the Influence and Poiden of Christ's Resurrection upon our Lives appear to be, when we consider, that it is, indeed, the principal Evidence that we have for the Truth of our Religion, the very Design of which is to make us Vertuous and Holy.
If any Thing in the World can make a Man Good, it must be a hearty Belief of the Gospel. And if any Thing in the World can make a Man heartily to believe the Gospel, it must be the Resurrection of our Saviour from the Dead. All that Power therefore, that the Gospel of Christ hath to make Men good; all that Force and Efficacy, that its Arguments, its Promises, its Precepts, its Encouragements, its Threatnings, have upon the Understandings and Wills of Men, in order to bring them to Vertue and Holiness; I say, all this may, in a great measure, ultimately be resolved into the Article of Christ's Resurrection. For this Resurrection of his, was the Thing that did from the Beginning, and doth now, and ever will ascertain Mankind of the Truth of Chrift's Religion. This was, and will be for ever, the convincing Evidence, that what Jesus taught was true Doctrine; that what he commanded was of perpetual Obligation; that what he promised or threatned, he was able to make good.
If Christ had not risen from the Dead, but had for ever been detained in the Grave, notwithstanding all that might be urged from the Goodness of his Doctrine, and the Innocency of his Life, and the Multitude of his Miracles
for the Proof of the Truth of Christianity (though yet very strong and concluding Proofs these are) I doubt it would hardly have met with that ready Entertainment in the World, that we find it did : But a great many both then and now, would have made the same Objection against Jesus Christ and his Gospel, that the Pharisees did of old ; that is to say, That all his great Works and Miracles were done by Sorcery and Magick. And that as for the Innocency of his Life, and the great Vertue and Strictness that he expressed in his Conversation; that was only used as a Trick and an Artifice, the more easily to impose upon the World. But now, when it appears that Jesus, who taught this Holy Religion ; who did those Miracles; who liv'd that vertuous Life ; did, after he was put to a cruel Death, rise again to Life, and conversed upon Earth for Forty Days together; and after that, in the Presence of many Spectators, did ascend into Heaven ; I say, when this appears (as, God be thanked, it is evident be. yond all Contradiction) here is no room left for any Suspicion of this Nature, but all Pretences of Imposture do perfectly vanilh. It is impossible for any considering Man to believe Christ's Resurrection, and at the same Time to doubt of the Truth of his Religion.
For thus let us reason; Christ over and over again told his Apostle, that he should be put to Death ; but after that, he would within Three Days rise again, Mat. 16. 21. 17. 22• John 16. 16.