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ON THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
i. From the remotest ages of antiquity, “ the Spi“ rit of Christ which was in the prophets, testified be“ forehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that “ should follow.”: The Messiah's twofold state of humiliation and exaltation, which is in some degree delineated in obscure predictions, and in the symbolical enigmas of the types, is elsewhere described more clearly and explicitly. At one time the prophet says; “ He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and “as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor “ comeliness, &c.b But we hear him saying also : “ Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; he shall “ be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” In one passage, the Messiah is represented to us as “a ser“ vant of rulers, whom man despiseth, and whom the “ nation abhorreth.” But he is also described as 6 given for a light to the Gentiles, and to be God's “ salvation unto the end of the earth; whom kings “ shall see and arise, princes also shall worship.”d ai Pet. i. 11.
0 Is. lii. 2. et seq. e Is. lii. 13.
d Is. xlix. 6, 7.
11. The modern Hebrew Doctors, absurdly wishing to disjoin these different states, pretend that there are two Messiahs. The one, they tell us, is the Son of Joseph by Ephraim, who, after having appeared and exerted himself for a little while in the work of salvation, is to terminate an afflicted life, and, as they express it, “ the sorrows of the Messiah,"* by a bloody death. The other is then to succeed, to wit, the Son of David, a more fortunate Messiah, who is to subdue his enemies on every side, to restore the Israelites to the land of their fathers, to revive the golden age;
O’er the wide world his peaceful sceptre sway,
III. The true faith, on the contrary, whilst it knows only one God, recognises, also, only “one Mediator be“tween God and men.”e But to that one Mediator it ascribes two states ; the one a state of abasement and suffering, in which he procured our salvation ; and the other, of advancement and glory, in which he powerfully applies the salvation he has purchased. It is said of the same person: “ Thou hast made him a little lower " than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for every man; and,-" Thou hast crown“ed him with glory and honour.”£ It is one King of Zion, “just and having salvation,” who first comes to her, “ meek and lowly;" but whose “ dominion shall “subsequently extend from sea to sea, and from the “river even to the ends of the earth.”& Both are united in that Jesus whom we confess, who “ made himself
+ Pacatumque reget, patriis virtutibus, orbem. ci Tim. ii. 5.
Ps. viii. 5. Heb. ii. 7, 8, 9. & Zech. ix. 9, 10.
“of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a “ servant,” and “ whom God, in consequence, hath “ highly exalted.”h
IV. We have reason to contemplate each of these states with great pleasure and delight. As in the state of humiliation, we behold the incredible philanthropy of Christ, descending of his own accord to the lowest abyss of suffering ; so the state of exaltation, gives a representation of Christ, in which we may at once exceedingly rejoice with him from a principle of gratitude, and greatly exult on our own account. To whom ought it not to afford the sincerest pleasure, to think of the joyful rest and triumphant glory of so dear a Brother, Husband, and Head, who lately sustained so arduous a conflict with so vast an accumulation of evils?: A glory which he has received from the Father, not for himself only, but that he might share it with his brethren, his spouse, his members; who are, therefore, said to be “ raised up together with Christ, and made " to sit together in heavenly places.” i
v. The subject of the exaltation, properly so called, is Christ according to the human nature only. As the true God, he is adorned with the title of “ the High“ est;"j on account of his immutable blessedness and his unparalleled and boundless perfection; and it is utterly impossible for him, in the form of God, to be literally exalted, or made higher. It is the human nature only, that receives an accession of glory. Yet, since a mere man cannot be the recipient of a highness so great as that which appertains to our exalted Saviour, the term exaltation denotes also the illustrious mani.
to Philip. ii. 7, 9.
· Ephes. ii. 6.
festation, afforded in the glory of the human nature, of that divine majesty of Christ, which was previously veiled under the form of a servant. This is the manifestation for which he prays, John xvii. 5.
VI. Further, as it was by different steps of humiliation, that he descended at length to the lowest depth of abasement; so it is also by several steps of exaltation, that he is advanced to the greatest height of glory. The four following steps are particularly enumerated in the Creed. First, HIS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. Secondly, HIS ASCENSION TO HEAVEN. Thirdly, HIS SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER. Fourthly, HIS COMING AGAIN in the clouds of heaven TO THE GENERAL JUDGMENT; which will be the last and the most glorious act of his mediatorial office.
VII. The RESURRECTION of Christ, is the great support and foundation of our faith. “ 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 shalt be saved.”k Take away that pillar, and no part of the faith remains secure; all our hopes of salvation are entirely overthrown. “ If “ Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in “your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in " Christ, are perished.”1
VIII. We are at present to speak of this raising of Christ from the dead; and propose to illustrate the four following heads. First, Its NATURE and MANNER. Secondly, Its TRUTH and CERTAINTY. Thirdly, Its NECESSITY. Fourthly, Its UTILITY.
* Rom. x. 9. VOL. II.
11 Cor. xv. 17, 18.
IX. In order to understand rightly the NATURE of Christ's resurrection, it is necessary to attend to the following observations. 1st, That the body of Christ was preserved from all corruption in the grave, partly by his remaining in it for so short a period, partly by the virtue of the spices; but principally by the power of his divine nature, which, with singular vigilance, maintained it exempt from the least stain of putrefaetion.m 2dly, That his soul, having been, at its departure from the body, commended to the Father and received into heaven, rested sweetly there, as in a paradise, from all its labours. 3dly, That at the appointed hour of revival, his lifeless body was, by the energy of the divine omnipotence, prepared in its bowels, blood, animal spirits, and other parts, so as to become a proper habitation for the soul; and the soul was at the same time recalled from heaven to inhabit and govern the body,—the natural and essential union of his soul and body being restored. Our Lord styles this the “ taking again,” the re-assumption, of his life. 4thly, That both parts of his human nature were enriched and adorned with more excellent qualities, adapted to a new and spiritual life :—The soul with admir able light, resplendent purity, and inexpressible and glorious joy, arising from the ardent love of God, and a delightful sense of that love :— The body with a new accession of glory, being, from the moment of the resurrection, at least immortal,p and spiritual ;9 so that it no longer required the earthly functions of the animal, and was fitted for the pure and exalted offices of the celestial, life.
m Ps. xvi. 10.
* Luke xxiii. 43, 46.