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gels imparted the glad tidings to the shepherds with the greatest joy; and now, when he arose from the dead, having sinished this glorious work, with what transports of joy would they publish the good news to the women, who came to mourn at their Saviour's grave?" Fear not ye; he is not here, he is risen."
5. He arose from the dead, invested with a public character, as the common head and representative os all his followers. "For now," says the apostle Paul, "is Christ risen, and become the sirst fruits of them ** that slept (d)." Not that he was the sirst that was raised from the dead; for the prophets had raised some, and he, during his ministry, had raised others: but the apostle alludes to the sirst'fruits among the Jews, which were a pledge and an earnest of the suture harvest. In like manner, the resurrection of Christ secures and sanctisies the resurrection of every believer. It is a blessed pledge and assurance of that general harvest at the end of the world, when tfrfe angels, as the reapers, shall gather the elect of God from the four winds. Hence, also, he is said to be the sirst born, and the sirst begotten from the dead, as being the sirst that arose to immortal lise ;.and as, in virtue of his resurrection, the whole number of the redeemed are, in due time, to be born from the grave, and raised by him to immortal lise. For, a« the apostle reasons, " If we believe that Jesus died, "and rose again, we may easily believe likewisei ** that them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with "him (e)."
It now remains that I make a sew plain reflections from this important truth, that Christ our Saviour is risen from the dead.
1. We may be instructed, from this subject, in the divinity of his nature, and in the excellency of his religion. His resurrection is a most effectual and convincing proof of his being the Son of God. What but Omnipotence can loose the bands of death,
ft) I Cor. Xt. »o. (ij 1 Tbess, i». 14.
and rekindle the lamp of lise after it is extinguished? Reason itself assures us, that if Christ had been a deceiver, an insinitely wise and holy God would never have given him this testimony of his approbation. Here, then, we have a folid foundation, on which to build our faith in Christ, and his gospel. Here we are surnished with a fatisfying answer to all the objections of the ungodly. Christ is risen from the dead; and therefore, he most certainly came from God, and taught the mind os God in truth. Until the enemies of our religion have disproved this' important fact, all their objections to it must be vain and unavailing; and fo long as we are abundantly assured that he rose from the dead, our faith in Chrilt must remain sirm and Unshaken.
2. The facrisice of Christ^ death, is an atonement most acceptable and well-pleasing to God. His resuirection was a discharge or acquittal from the hand of divine justice; a public and authentic declaration, on the part of God, that he accepted the facrisice of Christ's death as a complete atonement for the sins of his people. By discharging our Surety from the prifon of the grave, he has given us the sullest assurance, that his justice is amply fatissied; for otherwise, the prifoner had never been released. The re-i proach of the cross is now ceased, and turned into glory. "There is now no condemnation to those "that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the "fleth, but aster the Spirit." God is just to forgive their sins. The price of their redemption is paid and accepted; and their Surety has obtained a sull discharge. What reafon, then, have we to triumph in the words of the apostle: "Who shall lay any "thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that "justisieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is "Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again "from the dead."
3. He is the appointed Judge of the world. ** God," fays the apostle, "hath appointed a day in which he "will judge the world in righteousness, by that man
C "whom "whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given ** assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him "from the dead (a)." What reason, then, have the enemies of Christ to tremble; you that are unbelieving impenitent sinners, that prosane his sacred name; that pour contempt on his ordinances, and disregard his laws! For he will be revealed ere long in flaming sire, to take vengeance on them that know him not, and obey not his gospel. But let his friends rejoice, even in the depth of sorrow, and in the dust of death; for he will come to be glorisied in his saints, and to put them in possession of those mansions of persect rest, and everlasting happiness, which he is now preparing for them.
4. Let us consider the resurrection of Christ as a powersul argument to encourage our trust in him, and our hopes of eternal salvation by him. The hopes to be derived from the resurrection, are sull of consolation to his servants. The pardon of all your sins is now effectually secured to you; for, as he was delivered for your offences, so he rose again for your justisication. You may now hope for the redemption of your bodies from the grave, and their being transformed into the resemblance of his glorious body; for Christ is risen, and become the sirst fruits of them that sleep. He is the sirst-born from the dead, and you are the children of the resurrection. When, therefore, you part with your bodies at death, you may lay them down in sull hope of re. ceiving them again, and of receiving them with insinite advantage; for he will change your vile bodies, and make them persect like his own. And when that happy morning of the resurrection arrives, death shall have no more dominion over you, but you shall triumph over death and the grave: "O death, where "is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory i . " Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory ** through our Lord Jesus Christ." And, sinally, you may now entertain the assured hope of a blessed
(*) Acts wii. 31.
:immortality; "for you are begotten again to a lively "hope, by the resurrection os Christ from the dead; "to an inheritance incorruptible and undesiled, and "that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." Christ; arose to die no more; and his redeemed, in like manner, shall rise to an immortal lise, and be ever with the Lord.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, "immoveable, always abounding in the work of the ." Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour "shall not be in vain in the Lord."
The Circumstances And Benefits Of Christ's Ascension.
Luke jxiv. 50, 51.
And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lift up his hands, and blessed them: And it came to pass, tuhile he blessed them, he -was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
ALittle before this period, we faw our Saviour nailed to the cross, and struggling with the powers of darkness and of death. Had the gospel history concluded here, it woidd have been mournsul indeed; for, had he perished in the grave, all our .hopes of falvation would have perished with him. But the words of the text bring us good tidings of great joy; viz. that aster having risen from the dead, and continued for fome time with his disciples, he ascended victorious and triumphant over all his own, and his peoples enemies. "And it came to ** pass, \vhile he blessed them, he was parted from "them, and carried up into heaven."
In the foregoing part of this chapter, we have the evidences of our. Lord's resurrection, and his discourse to his disciples before his ascension.