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3. The third effect of Christ's death is this, the powers of darkness are broken by it. He that had power of death, the devil is now made an object of triumph. The devil thought he might get a complete victory when Christ suffered, but Christ tells us, “Now is the prince of this world judged.” John 16.
, 11. Death itself that is our last enemy was destroyed by the death of Christ. And this was the reason why, when Christ died, many saints rose up and lived again in Jerusalem, to de. clare to us death was conquered. And at the last day the grave shall give up its spoil, by virtue of Christ's death.
4. The fourth effect of Christ's death is this, the crucifixion of sin. Therefore the scripture tells us, the old man is crucified with him. Sin brought Christ to the cross, and Christ brought sin to the cross and nailed it there. Herein appears the admirable wisdom of God, that as sin brought in death, so the death of Christ should carry out sin, I mean in reference to believers.
5. The inheritance of glory is the fruit and effect of Christ's death. The blood of Christ, ratifies the New Testament. It is the key of paradise, and opens heaven for us : there was such an exuberancy in the merits of Christ ; such a supererogation of worth, that not only satisfied for us, but purchased an inheritance for us. Whereas the first Adam had an earthly paradise; the second Adam purchased for us an everlasting state of glory: this is another medium, whereby you may exercise the duty of meditation in your souls.
Thirdly. Another rule I laid down was this, when you do consider of any objects, amplify them by way of comparison, and that either by way of similitude or dissimilitude; do so as to the sufferings of Christ.
1. If you take the sufferings and amplify them by way of comparison. But there is nothing in the creation, that is a fit subject fully to represent them by: I shall therefore make a parallel (as the scripture doth) between the death and crucifixion of Christ for us, and the death and killing of sin within us. The death of Christ was a real death, and so should the death of sin be: many times in the bodies of men, there is an interruption of the vital and animal spirits ; so that some one part of the body, is as it were dead; as in those that lie under palsies and the like; but it is not a real death, till the soul be separated from the body: there was a real separation between the soul and VOL. III,
the body in Christ; so there should be between sin and us. The death of Christ was a sharp and dolorous death ; so we should exercise a holy severity against sin: we should not allow any indulgence to our lusts. The death of Christ was a gradual and a lingering death: so should we condemn our sins too, that since we cannot kill them at once, yet they should die by degrees.
2. By dissimilitude. The scripture hath an eminent instance, 1 Pet. 1. 18. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not re
deemed with corruptible things” (observe the dissimilitude) “as • silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ." Take
all the treasures of the world, although we deify them they cannot free one soul; it was only the sacred treasures of heaven the blood of the Lord Jesus that was able to free us from the wrath to come. Indeed the consideration of Christ's blood stains all the glory of the world, and impoverisheth the richest splendour of the whole universe.
Another rule which I propounded to you was to meditate on a spiritual subject by way of emission or ejaculation of your souls to God, and that two ways. 1. By way of complaint. 2. By way of desire.
Ist. Let the soul send forth itself to God by way of complaint of its insensibility of these suffering of Christ. Did the whole creation bear a share with the Lord Jesus in his sufferings, and shall our hard hearts be insensible ? when the Son of God was debased, the sun of the world was darkened and eclipsed, and durst not show its glory. The whole world (as I may so speak) was hung with mourning,' in reference to the sufferings of Christ; and shall our souls be insensible of these sufferings? The veil of the temple was rent, and shall not our hearts ? Impress these considerations. The creature that was not the cause of Christ's death and sufferings, sympathized with him, and shall man who was the cause neglect and despise them? Christ shed drops of blood, and shall not we spend hearty sighs ? How should we thus complain of ourselves to the Lord, concerning the hardness of our hearts.
2dly. By way of desire, and that in two respects, when we meditate upon the death of Christ. 1. That we may have an interest in those sufferings. 2. That we may feel the sensible fruit of them.
(1.) That we may have an interest in these sufferings. It is not a naked contemplation, but the implantation of our souls into Christ's death, that makes it effectual to us. There were many that did see the ark, yet lost their lives, because they were without it. So many may have an historical knowledge, yet because they are not united to Christ, they receive no benefit : therefore beg that God would implant thee into that likeness of Christ's death, that he would unite thee to the Lord Jesus. Remember possession follows union. Christ's garments only cover Christ's members; therefore let thy desires be excited after an interest in him;
(2.) 'That you may feel the sensible fruits and benefits of those sufferings of Christ. And here the soul should send forth its desires to God. Oh that my sins might feel the vinegar and the gall! Oh that they were nailed to the cross of Christ! Oh that I might find the fruits of the cross! Oh that his pains might produce peace to my soul! Thus the heart of a gracious person should send forth his desires to God. - Another rule I gave you for the managing the duty of meditation, was by way of impression upon our own souls, and that likewise in a double manner. 1. By way of charge. 2. By way of restraint. Do so as to the sufferings of Christ.
1. By way of charge. After the soul hath warmed itself with the meditation of them, let it impress upon itself these three things by way of charge. To exercise faith; to inflame its love; and to enliven its obedience.
To exercise its faith. Thus let the soul of a christian reflect upon itself: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me ?" Psal. 42. 5. Why dost thou fear the punishment of sin, when guilt is taken away? Why art thou tossed to and fro with anxious fears and perplexities? Consider the Lord Christ hath died; and this is that which makes the apostle to cry victory over all our spiritual enemies. There are two things which usually do weaken the trust of believers. One is the greatness of their sins, the other is the weakness of their faith. Now the sufferings of Christ answer both these. For the greatness of thy sins propose this; our sins are but finite acts, and therefore cannot preponderate his infinite righteousness. Oh consider, thy sin is infinite indeed in respect of the object; but the righteousness of Christ is infinite in respect of
the subject : certainly the obedience of God is more available to reconcile us,
than the disobedience of man was to make an enmity between God and us. Consider thus with thyself, if thou hadst always lived in a spotless innocency, thou wouldst not then be afraid of God: yes, but the righteousness of Christ exceeds the natural robe of thine innocency. If the angels may always look upon the face of God, who are only clothed with their natural righteousness; certainly a believer may who is clothed with the righteousness of Christ. That blood is able to redeem ten thousand worlds.
Suppose thy trust is taken off by reason of the weakness of thy faith, thou fearest thy faith is not strong enough. The meditation of Christ's sufferings will answer that; for impress this upon thy soul. The price is the same and the acceptation of God is the same, both in reference to a strong faith and a weak faith. A weak eye that looked upon the brazen serpent, was an instrument to cure the body as well as a strong eye. The wings of a dove may carry it over the river, as well as the wings of an eagle; and a weak faith may lay hold on the righteousness of Christ, as well as the strong, and embrace it. Oh remember, the strongest faith is not the purchaser of our salvation; and therefore when thy faith is weak, yet encourage thyself by considering the sufferings of the Lord Jesus.
2. By way of check and restraint. When ever you find souls tempted to sin, let this allay the heat of the temptation; and let the consideration of Christ's sufferings repel all those fiery darts. Let me allude to that of David, when the water of Bethlehem was brought to him, which was purchased by the hazard of men's lives, saith he, “Shall I drink the blood of these men ? And he poured forth the water before the Lord.” When ever thy soul is tempted to sin, then argue thus ; shall that, that was his sorrow, be my joy? Sin was the spear that opened his side, and the nails that pierced his hands. Sin is that which makes every person to be a Judas to betray him; a Pilate to condemn him and soldiers to crucify him. And shall we thus again crucify the Lord Jesus ? Shall we add sorrow to sorrow? This is one of the most noble and powerful means to restrain and check the soul, whenever the temptations of sin are strong and vigorous upon thee.
To conclude, the sum of what I would say is this. In this meditation of the death of Christ, let the duty be,
your Serious, Affectionate, Applicative, Practical. First. Serious. It is an expression of the apostle, “Consider the Lord Jesus ;" let not your views be transient sudden glances, which do no good; but represent the Lord Jesus before your eyes in a serious and solemn manner. And you
that are to come to the sacrament have an advantage of others : kings do many times represent their own persons in the broad seal ; they sit upon a throne sceptred and the like: so Christ in the sacrament (which is the seal of heaven) represents his own person. There is only this difference, the picture of a king is a dead representation : but the Lord Christ in the sacrament is most livelily and efficaciously represented to the soul.
Secondly. Let it be an affectionate view. Let your affections correspond with the Lord Jesus Christ in all the passages of his sufferings. If that argument will not break us, the fames of hell will melt us. Always make reflections upon yourselves, and consider that you were the invisible crucifiers of Christ.
Thirdly. Let your meditation be applicative, always make an impression upon your souls. The generality of people look upon the death of Christ as the death of a martyr, and not as a Mediator ; only as the death of an innocent person, that suffered without cause; therefore they spend their declamations against the Jews, the soldiers, and Pilate; but vain persons they never reflect upon their own hearts, they do not apply it to their own souls. Consider it is not the blood of Christ, as it was shed upon the cross; but as sprinkled on thy heart that saves thee; and therefore make application of it when ever thou meditatest upon the sufferings of Christ.
Fourthly. Let thy meditation be practical, reduce it to obedience. Oh this is to realize it in our thoughts; when we live as those that feel the influences and power of Christ's death in our souls; when we find our hearts thereby to be enlivened in the duties of holiness, and our corruptions to wither and decay and fall before us, then it is that we meditate aright upon the death of the Lord Jesus.
Take this as an encouragement. Those that thus make application of Christ as crucified; shall hereafter be conformed to Christ as glorified. Those that now feed upon his body in the sacrament by faith, shall hereafter feed upon his face by sight and vision, for ever and ever.