« 上一頁繼續 »
The connexion between the death of Christ on earth and his succeeding life in glory, renders each of them more interesting. There is great joy derived from the consideration of salvation through the death of Christ. It is the burden of the heavenly song. But this would be no joy, were it not for the consideration of his life. What if we could all have obtained salvation; yet, if it must have been at the expense of the everlasting blessedness of our deliverer, who could have enjoyed it? What would the feast be, if the Lord of the feast were not there? Though, in enduring the death of the cross, he had spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly; yet, if he had not lived to enjoy his triumphs, what would they have been to the redeemed, and even to the angelic world? If the King's Son had been lost, the victory of that day would have been turned into mourning. If it had been possible for him to be holden of death, the loss to the moral empire of God must have exceeded the gain, and the saved themselves must have been ashamed to appear in heaven at the expense of the general good! But we are not called to so painful a trial. Our salvation, expensive as it was, was not at this expense. He was dead, but he liveth! Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
And as the life of Christ adds to the joy arising from his death, V so the death of Christ adds to the joy arising from his life. There is great joy as we have seen, derived from his life; but it would not be what it is, if this his life had not succeeded his death. The life of Isaac was dear to Abraham before he attempted to offer him up a sacrifice; but it would be much more so when he had received him as from the dead. The life of Joseph was dear to Jacob, when he dwelt with him in the vale of Hebron; but it would be much more so after his having, in a manner, burried him. If Christ had never divested himself of the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, it would not have been to us that which it will be. The very angels, though he died not for them, nor for any of their spccies, yet honour him as the Lamb that was slain, And as to the Redeemed themselves, their song is sweeter
still: Thou art worthy, say they, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.
3. He describes himself not only as he that liveth, and was dead, but as being Alive for evermore, He was raised, not only to life, but to an immortal life. He dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him. This cheering truth arises from the perfection of his sacrifice. The sacrifices under the law could not take away sin, but were mere shadows of good things to come, and therefore required to be often repeated; but the sacrifice of Christ was ONCE for all. The scriptures lay great stress on the term once, as applied to the sacrifice of Christ: it is used no less than six times in this connexion: Christ being raised from the dead, saith the Apostle, dieth no more : death hath no more dominion over him; and thus he accounts for it,-For in that he died, he died unto sin ONCE: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. A transient suffering in so divine a person was sufficient to expiate that which would have subjected us to everlasting punishment, and to lay the foundation of a permanent life with God, both for himself and for all those who believe in him. Such was the value of his sacrifice, that its influence will continue for ever. Even when the work of mediation shall be perfected, and the kingdom, as mediatorial, delivered up to the Father, that God may be all in all. Christ will live, and be the life of the church for ever. In that state where there will be no temple, the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are said to be the temple thereof; and the reason given for there being no need of the sun, nor of the moon, is, that the glory of God will lighten it, and the Lamb will be the light thereof.
The Amen, which follows this part of the description, seems to be added by the Apostle, and designed to express the satisfaction that he felt in the life of Christ. The words, 'O King, live for ever,' as addressed to an Asiatic sovereign, could only express the wish of the party that his life might be continued; and that in most cases, was mere flattery: but here is neither flattery or hyperbole. The Lord declares that he lives for ever, and the Apos
tle adds to it his cordial Amen!
4. He declares the authority with which he is invested: And have the keys of hell and of death. By hell and death, I understand the powers of the invisible world, which in reward of his humiliation and death, were put under his control. God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.—Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities, and powers being made subject unto him. Hell, with all its machinations, can do no more than he permits; and death, with all its terrors, comes and goes at his bidding.
But why are bell and death only mentioned as subjected to Christ? Does not his empire extend to the church as well as to the world, and to the visible as well as to the invisible powers? Certainly it does all power in heaven and earth is given to him: but there was a fitness in his here mentioning that part only of his empire which was hostile to the church, and that kind of hostility which, at the time, threatened to destroy it. Persecution is the storming work of hell and of death on the strong holds of Zion, Hell furnishes the plan, and death carries it into execution. Men, indeed, have a concern in what is done against the church; but it is as agents of the wicked one: the visible world, therefore, may be overlooked as being influenced by the invisible. To control an army it is sufficient to control those that influence its move
II. LET US CONSIDER THESE INTERESTING CHARACTERS AS A SOURCE OF SECURITY AND FELICITY TO THE CHURCH. The existence of the church in this depraved world is one of the wonders of Providence. It is a vessel living in a tempestuous sea; a bush on fire, yet not consumed. If we reflect on the enmity of the wicked against the righteous, their great superiority over them, the attempts that have been made to exterminate them, the frequent diminution of their numbers by defection and death; their existence, and especially their increase, must be wonderful, and can no otherwise be accounted for but that Christ liveth.
When they were few in number, and wandered as strangers from one nation to another, he suffered no man to hurt them; he reproved kings for their sakes; saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. In Egypt he saw their affliction, and came down to deliver them. Of Jerusalem the enemy said, Rase it, rase it to the foundation; but the Lord remembered it, and destroyed its destoyer. Under the Persian dominion, the captives were restored to their own land; yet even then the enemy intrigued against them; so that for one and twenty years the building of the temple was hindered, and the prayers of the prophet Daniel were unanswered. Thus it was, I conceive, that the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood the angel for one and twenty days: but lo, Michael the chief prince stood with him and helped him.*
Under the gospel dispensation, as the church became more spiritual, the hatred increased; and as religion was, from hence, more of a personal than a national concern, such was the opposition directed against it. But still the great Head of the church lived. The persecution which raged at the time of this prophecy was the second of ten cruel persecutions from the heathen emperors; and though, after this, the government became professedly Christian, yet such were the corruptions which entered in at this door, that in a little time that which was called the Christian church became an antichristian harlot, persecuting the servants of Jesus, with a cruelty, equal, if not superior, to that of heathens. These floods filled the breadth of Immanuel's land, reaching even
* Dan. x. 13. 21. Prideant reckons, from the first interruption of the Jews in rebuilding the temple to the last sentence of Darius in their favour, only twenty years; namely, from the third year of Cyrus to the eighth of Darius Hystaspis; but from Dan. x. 1—4. it appears, that, though the opposition openly commenced in the third year, yet it had been at work in the second. It was within three days of the beginning of the third year, that the prophct began to mourn; if one cause of this mourning, therefore, was the obstruction to the work of God at Jerusalem, it must have begun in the second year. which makes it twenty-one years, corresponding with the three full weeks of the prophet's mourning, and with the one and twenty days of the angel's detention, according to the usual prophetic reckoning, a day for a year.
to the neck; but the church's Head being above water, he has survived them all.
Often have we seen, in our smaller circles, the cause of God reduced to a low condition; sometimes by the falling away of Characters who seemed to be pillars, and sometimes by the removal of great and good men by death. But under all this it is our comfort, the Lord liveth-the government is on his shoulder.
Finally The life of Christ involves not only the security of the church on earth, but its felicity in heaven. The members being united with the head, their life is bound up with his life. Even in the present world, if one says, I live, he must recollect himself, with the Apostle, and add, Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: but if it be so in respect of spiritual life in this world, it will be so as to eternal life in the world to come. Every thing which our Lord did and suffered was for us; and every degree of glory that he possesses in reward of it is for us: for us he became incarnate, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and liveth at the right hand of God. Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
From the whole, we see, First; That the way to everlasting life is to believe in Jesus. The way of life, according to the tenor of the first covenant, was, The man which doeth these things shall live by them but the way of life to a sinner is, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shall be saved. It is as believing in the Son of God that we are interested in him, and having him, have everlasting life. We have, in the life of Christ, the greatest possible encouragement to believe in him and be saved; for it is as ever living to make intercession for us, that he is able to save to the uttermost all those that come unto God by him.
O my hearers! this is the hinge on which our salvation or damnation turns. To refuse him in favour of your own rgihteousness, or of any other idol, is to refuse life; and to hate him, is to love death. The question put to the house of Israel is no less applicable to you than it was to them, Why will ye die? Those who