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of him : Isa. liii. 10. · Ile shall see liis seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.' A notable type of it was Jonah's coming out of the whale's belly, Matth. xii. 40.
(2.) In respect of the dignity and glory of his person. Ile was the true God and eternal life. How was it then possible, that he should be holden by death ? Acts ii. 24.
(3.) In respect of his Mediatory office, which would have been broken if he had not risen again. He was to reign for ever, Psal. xlv. 7. Luke i. 32; to intercede as a Priest for ever, Psal. ex. 4. and therefore to enter into the holiest of all, after he had expiated our sins by his blood.
(4.) In respect of our salvation. If Christ had not risen, all the elect's hopes of heaven had rotted in the grave for ever: 1 Cor. xx. 17. If Christ be not raised, (says the apostle), your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. His resurrection was the life of his death, and had he not by his resurrection overcome death; it would for ever have devoured us also.
4. The time of his resurrection, the third day. He was crucified on Friday afternoon, and he arose early on the first day of the week, which has from that event been called the Lord's day, and observed as the Christian Sabbath in all the churches of Christ. This period was long enough to confirm the truth of his death. His body did not corrupt in the grave, Psal. xvi. 10. Acts xiii. 37. Nor was it ever after mortal, but put on immortality, Rom. vi. 9. • Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more ; death hath no more dominion over him.' This was one difference betwixt Christ's resurrection and that of Lazarus, who rose again only to a mortal life.
5. The author of his resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is ascribed to himself, and we are firmly to believe that he rose by his own power, John ii. 19. Destroy this temple, (says he), and in three days I will raise it up.' John x. 17. 'I lay down my life, that I might take it again.' And this the scripture insists upon as an argument of the divinity of Christ, Rom. i. 4. where he is said to be declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead :' which must needs be thus understood; for Lazarus also was raised; yet no such thing followed on it. It is ascribed also unto the Father, Rom. vi. 4. But there is no inconsistency here: for whatsoever the Father doth, the Son also doth the same, the external works of the Trinity being common to each person. The reason why Christ's resurrection is ascribed to the Father, is, that he acted therein as a judge, letting out the prisoner when the debt was paid.
6. The manner of our Lord's resurrection.
(1.) ft was ushered in with a terrible earthquake, Matth. xxviii. 2. 'Behold, there was a great earthquake. As the earth shook and trembled at our Lord's passion, so did it also at his glorious resurrection from the dead. This was an extraordinary and miraculous shaking of the earth, proceeding immediately from the divine power, as the eclipse of the sun which happened during his passion. It was a sign of triumph, and a token of victory, by which our Lord intimated to the whole world, that he had overcome death in its own dominions, and lifted up his head as a glorious conqueror above all his enemies. He came out of the grave with great solemnity, and marched out of the bloody field with a pomp and majesty becoming the dignity of Heaven's champion.
(2.) Christ in his resurrection was attended by some of the courtiers of heaven, Matt, xxviii. 2. 'An angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.' Christ's power was not confined to the grave or the earth, but extended to heaven and all the host of it. Though the chief priests and Pharisees conspired together to keep him close shut up in the grave, sealed the stone which was rolled to the door of it, set a watch, and made all things as sure as they possibly could, yet one of the heavenly host by a touch baffled all their mea
The angel of the Lord rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
This action speaks a secure triumph over all the obstructions of Christ's resurrection. He sat on the stone, defying all the powers of hell to roll the stone to the grave again: and he sat as a guard to the grave; for having frightened away the enemy's black guard, he sat expecting the women to give them an account of our Lord's resurrection, as he very pathetically did, ver. 6. · Ile is not here : for he is risen, as he said : come, see the place where the Lord lay.'
(3.) He laid aside all the ensigns of mortality and death : for he stript himself of the grave-clothes, and left them behind him, John xx. 5, 6, 7. The reasons of this laying them aside might be these. [1.] Because he rose to die no more.
Lazarus came out with his ^rave-clothes on, because he was to die again; but Christ rising to an immortal life, came out free from all these ineumbrancos. [2.] Because ho was going to be clothed with robes of glory. [3.] he left these clothes in the grave, as it were for the use of his people. For if the grave be a bod to the saints, he hath thus sheeted it, and made it ready for them, that in it they may lie quietly and easily till the morning of the resurrection, when they shall enter into the full and eternal possession of the glory that is to be revealed,
These grave-clothes were found in very good order; which shews that his body was not stolen away when the watch slept, as the chief priests and elders foolishly bade them say. Robbers of tombs have been known to take away the clothes and leave the body; but none ever took away the body, and left the clothes, especially when they were made of fine linen and new.
(4.) Christ's resurrection was attended with that of many others, Matt, xxvii. 52, 53. • The graves were opened, and many bodies of saints which slept arose, and came out of their graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.' Here observe, (1.) Who they were that rose. They are expressly called saints, persons sanctified by the Spirit and grace of God: for such only shall rise by the virtue and power of Christ's resurrection. Who they were, whether the ancient patriarchs, the Old Testament martyrs, or more modern saints, who lived in Christ's time, but died before him, cannot be determined. (2.) That their number was considerable; they are called many. The benefits of our Lord's resurrection extends to many. (3.) The time of their rising was posterior to Christ's resurrection. For though before this the earth did quake, the rocks rend, and the graves were opened, yet none of them stirred out of these dark mansions till Christ was risen. It is in virtue of Christ's resurrection, that the bodies of all the saints shall in the fulness of time rise again. (4.) They went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. They did not appear to all the people, but to many; but whether friends or enemies, in what manner they appeared, how often, what they did and said, and how they disappeared, are secret things not to be known. It is very probable, however, that the great design of their appearing to so many was to bear testimony to the truth and certainty, to the power and glory of our Redeemer's resurrection. [5.] What became of these saints afterwards, is a question not easy to be determined. Some are of opinion, that as they rose only to bear witness of Christ's resurrection to those to whom they appeared, so having finished this their work, they retired to their graves again. But it seems to be more agreeable both to the Redeemer's honour and theirs, to suppose, that they rose, as he did, to die no more, and therefore ascended with him into glory.
7. The fruits of Christ's resurrection. Amongst many, I only name the following.
(1.) It is an argument of his having made complete satisfaction to the justice of God for the sins of his people, John xvi. 10. When the just Judge opens the prison door, it says that the prisoner's debt is fully paid, and he has received satisfaction for all
demands from him. Christ's resurrection was in effect a discharge of all the debt he had taken upon him to pay.
(2.) It is an argument, that the bodies of the elect shall be raised at the last day, 1 Cor. xv. 20. Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.' If Christ has risen, the power of death is broken. And the same Spirit dwells in his members, Rom. viii. 11. And all the benefits of the covenant shall be made forthcoming, seeing he is alive to become executor of his own testament.
(3.) The duty of believers flowing from this is to walk in newness of life, Rom. vi. 4. They are to rise from the grave of sin, and to put on the robes of true holiness. Dead sinners are not fit members of a living head.
II. Christ ascended into heaven, the seat of the blessed. Concerning this, let us observe,
1. In what respect ho ascended. Not in respect of his divine nature, for that can change no place, and is confined to no place; but in respect of his human nature, which is so present in one place, that it cannot be in another at the same time, and it changeth one place for another by local motion. It was his human body that ascended into heaven, and which the heavens must contain till the restitution of all things.
2. The reality of his ascension. He did not merely disappear, but by a local motion went up from the earth into the highest heavens, leaving the one, and going to the other. And he ascended in a visible manner, before the eyes of his disciples.
3. The time of it, which was forty days after his resurrection, Acts i. 2, 3. This his long stay on the earth was the blessed effect of his matchless and unparalleled love to his church and people. Though ineffable glory was prepared and waiting for him in heaven, yet he would not go to possess it till he had ordered all things aright that concerned the good of his followers here on earth. More particularly, he staid so long on earth,
(1.) That he might the more convincingly testify unto his disciples the truth of his humanity, and confirm them in the faith of his being truly man.
(2.) To confirm them still the more strongly in the faith of his resurrection from the dead. This was a truth which the disciples were not easily induced to believe. Hence when they first heard it from Mary Magdalene, and the other women that had been at the sepulchre, it is said, that their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not,' Luke xxiv. 11. But his staying so long on the earth, and frequently conversing with them, gave them
full assurance of tho reality of his resurrection. He showed himself alive to them by many infallible proofs. He walked and talked with them, ate and drank with them. He again and again shewed them the marks of the wounds in his hands, and feet, and side ; which was the utmost proof the thing was capable of or required. Besides, it was not one or two, but many proofs which he gave them of this; for he was seen by them forty days; not indeed constantly residing with them, but frequently appearing to them, and bringing them by degrees to be fully satisfied of the truth of his resurrection.
(3.) To instruct them more clearly and perfectly in the knowledge of the mysteries of his kingdom, which after his departure they were to preach and propagate through the world. He had given them a general idea of that kingdom, and of the time when it should be set up, in the parable of the vineyard, Mark xii.; but upon this occasion he let them more clearly into the nature of it, as a kingdom of grace in this world, and of glory in that which is to come ; and no doubt opened to them that covenant which is the great charter by which it is incorporated. Thus our Lord did not entertain his disciples with discourses about polities in the kingdoms of men, about philosophy in the kingdom of nature, but about pure divinity and his spiritual kingdom, which were matters of greatest concern, both to themselves and to those to whom they were in a little time to preach.
4. The manner of our Lord's ascension.
(1.) He ascended not figuratively and metaphorically, but really and corporeally, by a local translation of his human nature from the earth to the highest heavens. He ascended from a mount, an high and eminent place, to ascertain his disciples of the truth of his ascension. He did not withdraw himself from them as at other times, but ascended openly in the view of them all, they looking stedfastly toward heaven as he went up. He ascended from the Mount of Olives, that he might enter on his glory nigh the place of his sufferings, and the last tragical scene of his life. It was at this mount that his heart was made sad ; for there he began to be sorrowful and sore amazed : and it was there also that his heart was made glad, and filled with ineffable and triumphant joy. The same place afforded him a passage both to his cross and to his crown; for there his sorrows and sufferings began, and from thence he ascended into heaven.
(2.) He ascended while ho was blessing his disciples. He blessed them as one having authority; yea, commanded the blessing upon them. And while he was so employed, he was parted from them, to intimate that his being so did not put an end to his blessing