The Resurrection of Christ

by Ezekiel Hopkins


CHRISTIAN Religion is founded upon such mysterious and supernatural truths, and the principles of it are so paradoxical to the received opinions of mankind, that the greatest persecution, which it ever found in the world, was not so much from fire and sword, racks and tortures, the evident cruelties of the first opposers of it, as from the magisterial dictates of partial and corrupt reason.

The philosophers, whom Tertullian calls the Patrons of Heretics, have established two peremptory maxims; utterly repugnant unto what the Scripture reveals to us, both concerning our happiness and comfort. The one is, Ex nihilo, nihil habetur: "Out of nothing, nothing can be made:" directly levelled against the creation of the world. And the other is, A privatione ad habitum non datur regressus: "There is no restoration of the same being, after a total corruption and dissolution of it:" which still continues a great prejudice against the resurrection of our bodies; and which the Oracles of Reason have so much troubled the world with, that, whatsoever seemed in the least contradictory to it, they judged contradictory to common sense, and exploded as ridiculous and impossible.

Under these great disadvantages the Christian Religion laboured: whilst it not only owned the creation of the world out of nothing, formerly described by Moses; but more clearly and openly attested the resurrection of the dead, which before was not either so clearly known, or so clearly proved: for these doctrines were held so absurd by the great sophisters of the world; whose minds were too deeply tinctured with contrary notions, that they looked upon the Christian Religion as a design rather to destroy reason, than to save the soul: accounting it a very absurd thing to believe in a Crucified Saviour, as being a person weak and impotent; or the future resurrection, as being a thing utterly impossible.

We find the Apostle to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 1:23, complaining that the Greeks, who were then the great masters of wisdom and learning, esteemed a Crucified Christ foolishness: and thought those men little befriended by reason, who would depend for life upon one that lost his own; and who would venture to take off the shamefulness of the cross, or to silence those scoffs that were cast upon those, for their credulity, who affirm the wonderful resurrection of a dead Saviour, and his glorious triumph over death and the grave. For this seemed to them no other than to solve an absurdity by an impossibility; and to make reason more suspicious, in that they judged the fundamentals of reason must be overthrown, to make the fundamentals of Christianity any way tolerable or possible. Wherefore we find, that, even at Athens, that great concourse of wits, where all the sects of philosophers made their common retreat; yet when St. Paul preached unto them Jesus and the Resurrection, this doctrine seemed so absurd and foolish to them, and so contrary to all principles of right reason, that they forgot that civility which usually is found in men of inquisitive spirits, and brake out into open reproaches and revilings: What will this babbler say? … because he preached unto them Jesus and the Resurrection: Acts 17:18.

No doubt, they wanted not very specious arguments to urge against the resurrection of the body.

As, first, the impossibility of a re-collection of the dispersed particles of men, resolved into their elements, and scattered by the four winds of heaven: though it might be very well retorted on the Epicureans, who disputed with St. Paul against the Resurrection, that it was not so unlikely a thing that there might be a re-union of the scattered parts of the same man, as that there should be a fortuitous concourse of atoms at the first making of the world: yet this objection overbore and prevailed with Heathens, so that when they burnt the bodies of Christians, they cast their ashes into the rivers, to confute their hopes of ever being raised again; from whence they should be carried away into an unknown ocean, and there be made the sport of winds and waves. But, what our Saviour says upon the same occasion to the Sadducees, may be said unto these men: Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God: Mat. 22:29: for, unless their parts could be scattered beyond the reach of Omnipotency; unless they could be ground so small, as to escape the knowledge and care of God, who ordereth and rangeth every mote that plays up and down in the sunbeams; this dispersion of the body proves not the impossibility of their union, because the power and providence of God will gather up every dust, and rally them together again, into the same place and order as now they are.

Another argument against the resurrection of the body, may be from the various changes, which dead bodies undergo: being, first, turned into earth; that, again, turned into grass and herbs; that, becoming nourishment for other men or beasts; that nourishment again passing into their substance; making a kind of transmigration of bodies, as Pythagoras would have that there was of souls: which is very evident in the case of Anthropomorphites, and Men-Eaters, who have, of several parts of other men's bodies, compounded their own. And so the same question may be demanded, which the Sadducees asked our Saviour, concerning the seven brethren who married the same woman, whose wife of the seven she should be at the Resurrection: so, here, those parts, which belonged to so many men, to which of them belong they in the Resurrection, without detriment to the rest? Here the same answer occurs, which Christ gave them, Mat. 22:29. Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God; who is the best judge of property; and can resolve all those parts, by which any nourishment hath been received by any other creatures, unto their own proper bodies again.

And thus it appears, that these arguments against the resurrection of the body amount not to prove the impossibility of the effect; but only the supernatural almighty power of the efficient. Wherefore, granting the Resurrection impossible, according to the original course of natural things; yet, when an omnipotent arm doth interpose, which gives laws unto it, who dares to say, that the creature may be brought to such a state of dissolution, as may outreach the dominion of the Almighty Creator?

Upon these grounds it is, that the Apostle asketh, why it should be thought a strange and incredible thing, that God should raise the dead: Acts 26:8; and, in the text, that he asserts the resurrection of Christ. And, to prevent any fallacious cavils against it, he shews,

First. That God raised him from the dead; and therefore it was not to be accounted a thing impossible, since to God nothing could imply a contradiction.

Secondly. He doth hot only assert the possibility of Christ's resurrection, but the impossibility of his final continuance under the power of death.

The grave, which grasps add retains all other mortals, was not able to detain him who hath immortality and life dwelling in himself: It was not possible that he should be holden of it; therefore God hath raised him up, loosing the pains of death.

Whom God raised up. Here is the efficient cause of Christ's resurrection, in the concurrent action of the whole Trinity; for all, that God doth out of himself, is ascribed to all the Three Persons. Sometimes, it is ascribed to the Father: as the Apostle speaks; The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied … the Holy One, and the Just, desiring a murderer … and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead: Acts 3:13, 14, 15. Sometimes, it is ascribed to the Son, who, by the infinite power of his divinity, raised up his human nature from the grave: so our Saviour himself tells us, I lay down my life of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again: John 10:18. The same may be collected of the Holy Ghost, from the words of the Apostle: If the Spirit of him, that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, he, that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit: Rom. 8:11: now if the Spirit of God can quicken our bodies, the same Spirit also can quicken the body of Christ; since it is the same Spirit that quickens both the Head and the Members.

Having loosed the pains of death. In some copies it is, Having loosed the pains of hell: which, possibly, gave occasion to that fond opinion of some, that Christ descended into hell, and there underwent the pains and penalties of that infernal place, as full satisfaction to the justice of God; and that these were the pains, from which God raised or loosed him in his resurrection. But this conceit is erroneous and extravagant, and deserves no serious confutation; especially because it plainly contradicts Christ's consummation est upon the cross; for, when Christ had undergone his sufferings on the cross he said, It is finished, and so … gave up the ghost: John 19:30. If Christ therefore did undergo any farther sufferings and pains, than those sufferings which he underwent on the cross, those sufferings would have been so far from being completed and finished, that they would have been but the præludium, and beginning of his sorrows. Having loosed the pains of death implies no more, but that God raised Jesus Christ from the death, which, after many dolorous pains, he suffered.

It follows: It was not possible that he should be holden of it.

This is that on which I intend principally to insist.

I. And, here, I shall shew UPON WHAT ACCOUNTS IT WAS ALTOGETHER IMPOSSIBLE FOR CHRIST TO BE DETAINED UNDER THE POWER OF DEATH: and my arguments for the proof hereof are these that follow.


There are Three Unions, the belief of which is the foundation of the greatest part of the Christian Religion, and which are wholly beyond the reach of reason: the mystical union of a believer unto Christ: the union, or rather unity, of the Three Glorious Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in one nature: and this hypostatical union of two natures in one person, in the Mediator. It is a mystery, which angels pry into and adore, with wonder and astonishment, how the eternal, only-begotten Son of God should assume flesh to himself, in so close and intimate a conjunction, that, though he be eternal, yet be should be born; though he be immortal, yet he should truly die; and though he were truly dead, yet he should raise himself to life again. These are things, which seem very in consistent one with another; yet they truly come to pass through this miraculous union, which transcends the reach of reason, as far as these things do that of nature: that the same person, who is eternal, should be young, yea be born in the fulness of time; that the same person, who hath immortality and life dwelling in himself, should also die a shameful and accursed death; that the same person, who was truly and really dead, yet had a power to quicken and recover himself: John 10:18. And this was it, which declared him to be the Son of God with power, as the Apostle speaks, even by his resurrection from the dead: Rom. 1:4.

And, indeed, if he had not risen from the dead, the Deity would have suffered in the opinion of the world; nor would they have believed him to be the Son of God, who would suffer himself to lie under the dominion of death, longer than the end of his death required it.

And this I shall demonstrate to you by Two arguments: only premising this, which is a common and true maxim among divines; That when the natural union between Christ's body and soul was dissolved, yet both soul and body did retain the hypostatical union to the divine nature: the divine nature was united to the body of Christ, when the soul was separated from it.

1. If Christ could not have raised himself, it must have been either from a Want of Power, or from a Want of Will, to do it.

He could not want Power to raise himself, because he was God; equal in power, and in all other divine attributes, with the Father.

As the resurrection of the dead is not impossible to the infinite power of God; so neither can it be, that that God, who had a will to assume our flesh, should want a Will to raise it up: that that God, who so loved the human nature, as to associate it into oneness of person with himself, should yet suffer it to continue under the power of death; which is, of all things, most contrary to his natural inclinations. We see Christ, in his agony, prayed most fervently that the bitter cup might pass from him, insomuch that he strained clotted blood through him: and, certainly, one ingredient in that cup was the separation of soul and body by death; which is that, which even innocent nature itself abhorred, as destructive to him; yet, having taken our nature upon him for this very end, that, by death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil: Heb. 2:14, he voluntarily submitted himself to undergo it; and, this end being fully accomplished by his death, and the truth of his death likewise attested by his lying three days in the earth, it was altogether impossible that that person, who had an abhorrence of death and a power to raise himself, should continue longer under the arrest and dominion of it.

And this is the First demonstration of the necessity of the resurrection of Christ, upon the account of both natures in one person: as man, he abhorred the separation of soul and body; as God, he was able to re-unite them: so that having, as man, a desire to live, and, as God, a power to live, it was impossible for him to be holden of death.

2. Because of the union of the divine and human nature in the person of Christ, it was impossible that his Flesh should see Corruption; which yet it must certainly have done, had he not been raised in a short space after his death.

For, since Christ's body was not a phantastical body, as some of old held, but made of true flesh, and of the same temper and constitution with ours, it must, without a miracle, have undergone such changes after death as ours shall do: and, to imagine the contrary, is but to feign one miracle, to avoid the necessity of another; even of the Resurrection. But, it was utterly impossible that that body, which was united to both natures by so close and unconceivable a bond, should ever see corruption; that is, a putrefaction in the grave: this the Scripture clearly asserts to us: Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption: Acts 2:27. And, also, because all bodies, which are corrupted, turn into some other thing and some other nature; according to that undoubted maxim of the philosophers, corruptio unius est generatio alterius: and so this horrid and blasphemous consequence would follow, that the divine nature of the Son of God might have been joined to some other. So that it was necessary that Christ should be raised again, before any corruption or putrefaction, by ordinary course of nature, seized upon him.

Thus I have proved, by these two arguments, that, because of the hypostatical union of the divine and human nature of Christ in one person, it was altogether impossible he could be holden of death.

ii. Another argument is this: It was impossible that Christ should be holden of death, BECAUSE OF GOD'S VERACITY; AND THE TRUTH OF THOSE PREDICTIONS, WHICH WERE BEFORE MADE CONCERNING CHRIST, in those many types and prophecies of the Old Testament; all which God's faithfulness stood engaged to fulfil.

I shall only mention that famous prediction, which St. Peter here subjoins, as a proof of the subject I am now treating upon: Acts 2:24, 25, 27. It was not possible, says he, that Christ should be holden of death: For, saith the Apostle, David speaketh concerning him.… Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. And this prophecy the Apostle quotes out of the Psalmist: Psal. 16:10. That it did not belong to David, and that he did not speak it concerning himself when he indited that Psalm, the Apostle shews, vv. 29, 30, of this chapter: where he proves that David was dead and buried, and underwent the common lot that all other dead bodies did, putrefying and mouldering away in the earth; and therefore he was not that Holy One that should never see corruption, because that prophecy must belong to such an one who must so taste of death: and this is clearly implied in the former expression, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, that is, in the state of the dead; for so is hell to be understood there, as I shall shew more at large. Neither could it belong to any of those, who, before Christ, were raised miraculously from the dead, and brought back out of the state of death; yet was it not in such a manner, that they were not to return again to it: so that if they did not in the first, yet in their second dying they saw corruption. This then could belong to none of them, and therefore must of necessity belong to Christ.

And since the Apostle lays so much stress on this argument, give me leave a little to consider the meaning of it, and how it is applicable to Him.

And, here, I shall not trouble you with the various opinions of those, who have attempted to interpret these words, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell: some thinking, that, by this hell, into which Christ descended, is meant the place of the damned, where he preached the Gospel to them, freeing those that would believe from their pains: others, that it was one great partition of it, called Limbus Patrum; "the repository of the souls of those Fathers" who died in obedience to God and in faith of the Messiah, before Christ came in the flesh; and that the reason of his descent thither was, that he might release those souls from chains, and carry them with him to heaven; so that, ever since, that mansion in hell hath been left void, without any inhabitants: but these opinions are not capable of any sufficient proof.

I shall, therefore, give you that interpretation and judgment, which carries with it the strongest current, both of Scripture and Reason. The word Hades, which we translate Hell, is very often, by the Septuagint, in the Old Testament, used to signify the Grave, or the state of the dead: so, in Gen. 44:31, we translate it the Grave; but it is the same word, that is used for Hell in the text: and thus the word is used in other places of Scripture, as also in other authors, to signify the place and state of the dead and of separate souls. And, for the leaving of the soul of Christ in Hades, or in Hell, we must know, that it is a thing not unusual in Scripture, to call a man that is dead by the name of soul: so, the Septuagint translate that place in Leviticus, ch. 21:11. They shall not be defiled with dead souls, meaning dead carcases: neither shall they go in to any dead souls: the word is dead bodies. But, not to detain you any longer on this speculation, though of great use for the right understanding of this excellent place of Scripture: if we take Hell for the Grave, we must take the Soul for the Body, Thou wilt not leave my body in the grave; but, if, by Hell, be here understood the state of death, that is, the state of separation of soul and body, the interpretation will be more easy and natural: Thou wilt not leave my soul in a state of separation from the body; but wilt certainly unite them together again, and raise me up before I shall feel corruption.

Thus I have given you the interpretation of the prophecy of David, which, upon the account of God's truth and veracity, was to take effect in the Resurrection of our Saviour; and, therefore, it being foretold that he should not see corruption, the faithfulness of God was obliged, within that time, inviolably to raise him up.

And that is the Second Reason, why it was impossible that Christ should be holden of death, because it was foretold of him, that his soul should not rest in hell; that is, either his body in the grave, or his soul in a state of separation from his body.

iii. Another argument is this: It was impossible that Christ could be holden by death, UPON THE ACCOUNT OF GOD'S JUSTICE.

For justice, as it doth oblige to inflict punishment upon the guilty, so also to absolve and acquit the innocent. Now, though Christ knew no sin; yet was he made sin for us: that is, our sins were imputed to and charged upon him; and, so, through a voluntary susception and undertaking of them, he became guilty of them. Hereupon, divine justice seized upon him, as being our Surety; and demanded satisfaction from him for our offences. Now no other satisfaction would be acceptable unto God nor commensurate to our sins, but the bearing of an infinite load of wrath and vengeance; which, if it had been laid upon us, must have been prolonged to an eternity of sufferings; for, because we are finite creatures, we cannot bear infinite degrees of wrath at once; and, therefore, we must have lain under those infinite degrees of wrath to an infinite duration: but, Christ being God, he could bear the load of infinite degrees of wrath at once upon him: in that one bitter draught, the whole cup of that fury and wrath of God, which we should have been everlastingly drinking off by little drops, Christ drank off at once. Now it is the nature and constitution of all laws, that, when a person, by undergoing the penalty which those laws require, hath made satisfaction for the offence committed, the person satisfying ought to be protected as innocent: it could not therefore consist with the justice of God, that, when Christ had satisfied his utmost demands, that any of the punishment due to our sins, for which he satisfied, should have lain upon him longer; for that would have been no other than punishing without an offence. Now nothing is clearer in Scripture, than that death is a punishment inflicted upon us for sin: so says the Apostle; The wages of sin is death: Rom. 6:23: and, in another place; by sin, death entered into the world, and death passed upon all, because all have sinned: ch. 5:12. From all which it follows, that, as Christ, taking upon him our sins, became thereby liable to death; so, having satisfied for our sins, and thereby freed himself from the guilt that he lay under by imputation, he was no longer liable unto death, which is one part of the punishment he underwent: so that it could not have been agreeable to Infinite Justice, that Christ should have been holden of death, who, by his undergoing of death, hath sustained the whole load of God's infinite wrath and displeasure, and fully satisfied for all those sins that were imputed to him; and therefore ought, in justice, to be acquitted from all penalties, and consequently from death.

iv. It was impossible that Christ should be holden of death, IN RESPECT OF HIS OFFICE OF MEDIATORSHIP.

For, having as our Mediator undertaken the desperate service of bringing sinful and fallen man to life and happiness, he must of necessity not only die, but rise again from the dead; without which, his death, and whatever else he did or suffered for us, would have been of no avail.

There are two things requisite, before any real or eternal benefit can become ours:

A meritorious Purchase, procuring the thing itself for us.

An effectual Application of that benefit to us.

The purchase of mercy was made by the Death of Christ, by which a full price was paid down to the justice of God: but the effectual application of mercy is by the Life and Resurrection of Christ. Wherefore, if Christ had only died, and not risen again; if he had not overcome death within its own empire, and triumphed over the grave in its own territories; it would have been to his disappointment, and not at all to our salvation. The loss of Christ's life would not have procured life for us, unless, as he laid it down with freedom, so he had again restored it with power: our hope of salvation otherwise would have been buried in the same grave with himself; but what he died to procure, he lives to confer.

It was ignorance of Christ's resurrection from the dead, that so staggered the two disciples going to Emmaus; Luke 24:16, 19, 20, 21. They tell Christ himself a sad story of one Jesus of Nazareth, that was condemned and crucified; "who, while he lived among us, by his word and works testified himself to be the true Messiah: we little thought of his dying; and, when he told us of his Death, he likewise foretold us of his Resurrection the third day; and, behold, the third day is already come, and yet is there no appearance of this Jesus. Verily, we trusted that it had been he, which should have redeemed Israel: but now our hopes grow faint, and languish in us; for, certainly, there can be no redemption for Israel by him, who cannot redeem himself from death."

Nothing in the world did so much prejudice the Gospel, and hinder its taking place in the hearts of Heathens in the primitive times, as the cross and death of Christ: for, believing that he was lifted up upon the cross, but not believing that he was raised up from the dead, they assented to their natural reason, which herein taught them, that it was folly to expect life from him, who could not either preserve or restore his own. It is true, it was folly thus to hope, but that his life applies what his death deserved; and our salvation begun on the cross, is perfected on the throne: and therefore the Apostle tells us, that our faith in a crucified Saviour, and our obedience to him, is all vain, if he had not risen again from the dead: 1 Cor. 15:17: for, unless he had risen from the dead, he could not have acquitted us from the guilt of sin, because he could not have been justified himself. We are justified by the righteousness of Christ, as the Apostle speaks, in his Epistle to the Romans; Rom. 4:25, which righteousness he wrought out for us, both by his perfect obedience to the Law and by his submission to the punishment of the Law: but, yet, this righteousness could not have availed td our justification, had he not, after the fulfilling of it, risen again from the dead; because he himself had not been justified, much less could we have been justified by one who could not have justified himself. And therefore we read, Great is the mystery of godliness: God manifested in the flesh, in his Incarnation; justified in the Spirit, by his Resurrection; seen of angels, in his Ascension: 1 Tim. 3:16: had he not been raised and quickened by the Spirit, that is, by the glorious power of his divine nature, he had not been declared just, nor could he have justified us: for this declaration, that Christ was just, was made upon the resurrection of his body from the dead; by which he was set free from all those penalties due to our sins, that were imputed to him. If, therefore, the justification and salvation of sinners was a design laid by the infinite wisdom of God, it must needs follow, that it was impossible for Christ to be kept under death, because that would have obstructed their justification and salvation; and so would have brought a disappointment upon the infinite wisdom of God, which was impossible to be done: and therefore, consequently, Christ could not be holden of death.

II. The APPLICATION of this great truth shall be briefly in these following Inferences.

i. If it was impossible for Christ not to have risen from the dead, IT IS EVIDENT, THEN, THAT CHRIST IS THE TRUE MESSIAH.

For, had he been an impostor or false prophet, it would have been so far from an impossibility that he should not have been raised, that it would have been a very impossibility for him to have risen again: for, neither could he have raised himself, being a mere man; neither would God have raised him, being a mere impostor and cheat. When, therefore, the Jews called for a sign from Christ to prove him to be the true Messiah, he gives them the sign of his resurrection: Mat. 12:38, 39, 40. Master, say they, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For, as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. So, again, when they tempted him at another time, for a sign of his being the Messiah, he still instances in his powerful resurrection from the dead: John 2:18, 19. The Jews answered and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. So that, still, he made his Death and Resurrection to be the infallible proof of his being the true Messiah.

ii. If it were necessary that Christ should rise from the dead, and if he did do so, THEN, CERTAINLY, SIN IS CONQUERED.

For the sting of death, and that envenomed weapon whereby it wounds yea kills the sinner, is sin; and, so long as death had this sting in it, it could not have been conquered by any sinner. It is sin, that gives death its power to hold fast all those, who come within its reach: which since it could not do with Christ, it is evident sin is subdued by Christ; who was in its arms and grasp, but yet came safe out from it, taking away the sting and weapon of death with him.

iii. If the resurrection of Christ be thus necessary, and hath been thus effectually accomplished, we may comfortably from thence conclude THE NECESSITY OF OUR OWN RESURRECTION.

For, the Head being raised, the Members shall not always sleep in the dust. Christ's mystical body shall certainly be raised, as well as his natural body; and every Member of it shall be made for ever glorious, with a glorious and triumphant Head.

And*, from each of these considerations, what abundant cause have we of joy and exultation! Of joy, in that his resurrection hath afforded us an irrefragable testimony to convince the world, that we have not misplaced our faith, our hope, our worship; since that Jesus whom we serve, was not only lifted up on the cross, but gloriously raised from the grave. Of joy, in that his resurrection is an infallible evidence to us, that the debt is paid, when the Surety is discharged from the arrest: that now God's justice will as well acquit us from our guilt, as his mercy; since it is not consistent with the rules and measures of justice, to punish the same offence in the principals, for which the Surety hath fully satisfied. And, lastly, of joy, in that his resurrection is a most certain and assured pledge of ours: and that he hath risen before us, only to pluck us out of our graves; and is ascended into heaven before us, only to prepare mansions for us, and, by the virtue of his resurrection and intercession, to lift us from the dust, to sit together with him in heavenly places.

And now, truly, the best way that I know to affect your hearts with joy for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is, first to lead you to his cross and sepulchre. Let me say unto you, as the angel did to the women, Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Behold him, first, in his Death and Sufferings. See the Lord upon the cross, pouring out his blood and his soul for you; and this will be a good help to heighten your joy, when you shall consider him risen again, and come triumphantly from under all his agonies and sorrows. This day exhibits Christ unto you, both bleeding and reigning, suffering and conquering, dying and reviving: all the glorious achievements of Redemption are this day to be represented lively to your faith and devotion; and as a messenger sent to you by Christ, I do, in his name, invite you to come and see your Lord, and mourn over him in the holy institution of his Supper. I know we are apt to wish, that we had lived in the time of Christ's abode here upon earth; that we had been conversant with him, as his disciples were, to have seen both his miraculous actions, and his no less miraculous passion. Why, truly, the disciples' sight of these things hath no advantage at all above our faith. If we can but act faith in this ordinance, which we are this day to partake of, these things will be now present to us. There shall we see Christ crucified before our eyes; yea, and crucified as truly and really to our faith, as ever he was to the sense of others. This can carry us into the garden, and make us do more than they, even watch with him in his agonies. This can carry us, without being befriended by acquaintance, into the judgment-hall, to hear his whole trial and arraignment. This can lead us, with the multitude and crowd of people, to his cross; and, in this ordinance, we may see his body broken and his blood poured out, and hear him crying It is finished, and see him at last give up the ghost. All this the holy sacrament doth as lively represent to the eye of faith, as if it were now doing. Consider: were there a sight to be represented, at which heaven, and earth, and hell itself, should stand amazed; wherein God himself should suffer, not only in the form of a servant, but under the notion of a malefactor; wherein the everlasting happiness of all mankind, from the first creation of the world to the final dissolution of it, should be transacted; in which you might see the venom and poisonous strength of all our sins wrung into one bitter cup, and that put into the hands of the Son of God to drink the very dregs of it; in which you might see the gates of hell broken to pieces, devils conquered, and all the powers of darkness: were there, I say, but such a sight as this, so dreadful and yet so glorious, to be now represented, would you not all desire to be spectators of it? Why, I invite you to it this day: only come, and come with faith, and you may see the Son of God slain, the blood of God poured out: you may see Him, who takes away transgressions, numbered himself among transgressors: you may see him hanging on the soreness and tenderness of his hands and feet; all our iniquities meeting upon him, and the eternity of divine wrath and vengeance contracted into a short space, and, as beams through a burning-glass, made more violent and scorching by that contraction. Come, therefore, and see, and let your eye affect your heart with deep and bitter sorrow, that ever you should embrue your hands in the blood of your Saviour, that ever you should be his executioners and murderers, that ever your sins and guilt should squeeze so much gall and wormwood into the bitter cup of his passion.

And, when you have thus wept over your dying Lord, let joy and gladness again fill your hearts, for he is risen: he is risen from death to life, from earth to heaven; by the one, to confirm our faith; by the other, to prepare our glory.


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1 John

2 John

3 John



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