« AnteriorContinuar »
And at the lame Time that he rose, he raised up other Bodies also of Holy Men, to accompany him in his Triumph over Death.
But that is not all; He that raised up himself and them, hath given us his solemn Word and Promise, in as express Terms as is possible, that he will, by the fame Power, raise up us also; and exalt us to the fame Glory that he is posiess'd of. He hath told u% That he is the Resimedtion and the Life: And that whosoever believe th in him, Jhall not perish, but have everlasting Life: and he will raise him up at the last Day. There cannot be a stronger Proof of any Thing; than our Saviour's Resurrection is of the Happiness of good Men in another State.
Which being so; How powerful a Means must we needs conclude it to be, for the Reforming the Manners of Mankind, and making them truly Holy and Vertuous■'?
Since we have thereby such a Demonstration given us of a glorious Immortality to be expected by us; what is it that can be able to hinder or divert us from a serious Pursuit of those Things that lead to it? What could God do more, by way of Motive and Argument, towards the Proselyting the World to Religion and Righteousness, than he hath done, by thus ascertaining our future Happiness, by the Resurrection of his Son Jesus?
. To be certain, that if we serioufly apply ourselves to a Life of Piety here, we shall be crowned with everlasting Felicity hereafter! To be certain, that if we follow the Steps of
A a 4 our our Blessed Saviour, we shall for ever shine in the lame Glory and Lustre that he now doth at the Right Hand of his Father! To be able positively to fay, I know that my Redeemer liveth; and I know, that if 1 live as he did, I shall for ever live with him; and tho' it doth fiot yet appear what Ijhall be, yet this I know, that when hejhall appear, I shall be like him! O what noble Thoughts, what brave Resolutions is this able to inspire us with? What Difficulties shall we be afraid of? What Labours shall we not willingly undertake? What Temptations shall we not easily vanquish in the Prospect of such an eternal Crown of Glory, as awaits us, and is secured to us by our Lord Jelus?
O happy we Christians! that have so clear a Revelation of those Things, which God hath prepared for them that love him; thole Things which Eye hath not seen, nor Ear heard, neither did they enter into the Heart of Man! Blessed, for ever blessed be our Lord Jesus Christ, that hath begotten us again to this lively Hope by his Resurrection from the Dead.
O! what mighty Encouragements have we to set ourselves against our Sins, and to labour after the 'Perfection of Vertue, in Comparison of what thole have who are ignorant of our Saviour's Resurrection, and who know nothing of the other World, but by the uncertain Conjectures of their natural Reason?
If we had no other Assurance of the Immortality of the Soul, and the Rewards and Punishments of another Li se, but what is afforded forded us by the Light of Nature, and the Deductions of Philosophy j I doubt we could never expect to see any great Reformation in our Manners.
Some of the Philosophers have, indeed, to their immortal Fame, asserted the Truth of these Things: But then others of them have as much made it their Business to run them down. And as for those of them that spoke the best concerning the other World, yet » God knows, their Discourses upon this Argument (as will appear to any that reads them) are generally very uncertain, and altogether conjectural.
But admitting their Reasons to be strong and conclusive (as I am far from denying, that the Soul's Immortality is demonstrable by the Light of Natures yet there are generally these Two Inconveniencies in the Arguments they make use of, for the Proof of this Matter, which render them in a great measure ineffectual for the reforming Mens Lives.
Firsts They are generally of so great Subtilty, so Nice, so Metaphysical, so much above the Reach of ordinary Capacities, that they are useless to the greatest Part of Mankind, who have not Understandings fitted for them.
And, Secondly, They have this Inconvenience likewise, that a Man doth not see the Evidence of them, without actual Attention to a long Train of Propositions j which Attention, it may be, when a Man most stands in need of their Support, he shall neither have the Leisure nor the Humour to give.
But now the Christian Method of proving another Life, is quite of another Strain, and wholly free from these Inconveniencies. That Demonstration which Christ hath given us of a glorious Immortality by his Resurrection from the Dead, as it is infinitely certain and conclusive; so it is plain and easy, short and compendious, powerful and operative. No Man that believes the Matter, of 'Fact, can deny the Cpgency of it: Men of the meanest Capaci* ties may apprehend it. Persons in a Crowd of Business, and in the midst of Temptations may attend to ic. And it hath this Virtue beside^ that it leaves a lasting Impression upon the Spirits of those that do believe and consider it.
Thanks therefore to our Lord Jesus Christ, for this excellent Instalment of Piety, that he hath given us by his Resurrettion. Everlast>ing Praises to his Name, that he hath thus brought Life And Immortality to light by his GofpeL This very Thing alone, was there nothing else to be said for the Christian Revelation, would sufficiently justify both the Gospel itself, and our Lord Jesus the Author of it, to all Mankind; nay, and effectually recommend his Religion^ above all others that ever were taught, to all Persons, in all Nations of the World.
IV. Fourthly and LaJHy, There is still a further Blessing coming to us by our Saviour's Re/krredion from the Dead j and in which, indeed, is chiefly seen and expressed the great cl'oww of it, for the making us Holy and Virtuous: That .is to fay, Unto it we do principally owe all that supernatural Grace and
-Assistance, by which we are enabled to vanquish our Corruptions, and to live up to the Precepts of our Religion.
V> A$ Christ by his Resurrection did oblige us tb lead new Lives; as Christ by his Resurrection did demonstrate the Truth of the Christian Religion, which is wholly in order to our leading new Lives; as by his Resurrection he cleared up to us the Certainty of our future State, and thereby gave us the greatest Motive and Encouragement to lead new Lives: So, in the last Place, by the fame RefiineBion he acquired a Power of conferring Grace, and Strength, and Influence upon us, by the Virtue of which, we are in Fact enabled to lead new Lives:
Though Christ by his Death reconciled us to God, and procured a Pardon of Sin for us $ yet the actual Benefit of this Reconciliation, the actual Application of this Pardon, did depend upon our Performance of certain Conditions: which Conditions were, that we should mortify all our evil Affections, and frame our -Lives suitable to the Laws of the Gospel. But now the Grace and Power by which we are enabled to do this, was not the Effect of Christ's Death, but of his Resurrection.
It was when he ascended up on high, and led Captivity Captive ;• that is, when he had vanquished Death, which had vanquished all the World before: It was then, (as the Scripture assures us) and not till then, that he was in a Capacity of giving Gifts unto Men. It was not till he was glorified, as St. John observes, that the Holy Spirit was given.