I have been very undecided respecting a text for the present occasion. Until this morning my thoughts have fled from scripture to scripture, like a bird hopping from twig to twig, not knowing on what to settle; but the principal debate in my mind has been between the words which I have now read to you and the words of Elizabeth to Mary, as in Luke 1:45, "Blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." And certainly these words were in many respects most strikingly exemplified in the life, experience, and death of our dear departed friend. But this morning my mind was led from that text, and fixed on that which I have now read to you. May the Lord the Spirit, who alone can make the word preached spirit and life to the soul both of the speaker and hearer, he with us this morning to bless us, that his word may be to us a savour of life unto life. In speaking from the words of the text, I shall first speak of the "Redeemer" who saith, "I will redeem them from death." Secondly, treat on "The redeemed of the Lord." Thirdly, notice the death here mentioned from which they are redeemed, and the Lord's method of redeeming them from death.
First, I am to speak of the "Redeemer" who saith, "I will redeem them from death." The speaker in the text is no less a person than the Eternal Jehovah, the God of the whole earth. For Isaiah, speaking to the Church of God in the character of a desolate widow, saith, "Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more; for thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called." (Isa. 54:4,5) Thus this Redeemer is not a mere man, as some would have us believe. If he was only a man, he could not be a Redeemer; for "no man can redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him; for the redemption of the soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever." This Redeemer, the speaker in the text, is both God and man, or "Immanuel, God with us." As touching his divine nature, he is, in very deed, "the God of the whole earth." For "all things are made by him and for him, and by him all things do consist; for he upholdeth all things by his power." (Col. 1:16,17) And, as touching his manhood, he is the Holy One of Israel; for he was the seed of Abraham, to whom the promise was made, and of the lineage of David. And, as there was no sin in him, nor guile found in his mouth, but "was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," (Heb. 7:26) he is the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, of whom Peter speaks, saying, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Pet. 1:18,19) Job appears to have had a most glorious view of this Almighty Redeemer in human nature and his own interest in him; for he saith, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (Job 19:25-27) Jeremiah had also a most glorious view of this Redeemer, when he said, "O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life." (Lam. 3:58) David also had the same view and sweet experience of interest in this Redeemer, and opens his mouth in praise to his dear name; saying, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits! who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." (Ps. 103:1-5) And good king Hezekiah had the same view of this glorious Redeemer, when he said, "For peace I had great bitterness; but thou hast, in love to my soul, redeemed it from the pit of corruption; for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." (Isa. 38:17) And who can forgive sins but God alone? I answer, none. And this God over all, and blessed for evermore, is the speaker in the text, who saith, "I will redeem them from death."
Secondly, we have to notice the "redeemed of the Lord." You will find the prophet Isaiah, speaking in reference to this people, saith, "Surely they are my people, children that will not lie; so he was their Saviour. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old." (Isa. 63:8,9) Here the redeemed are called the Lord's people and the Lord's children. In another text we are told that "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment and her converts with righteousness." (Isa. 1:27) Hence the promise that "the Redeemer shall come to Zion and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord." (Isa. 59:20) Zion is figuratively the Church of God, or God's people, to whom he saith, "I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, thou art my people." (Isa. 51:16) Now these two or three texts of Scripture show us most plainly who the redeemed of the Lord are. But then, it may be asked, who are the Lord's people or Zion mentioned in these texts, and how are they to be known? It is certain that they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children. (Rom. 9:6,7) For in a great house (and such is the visible church or gospel Zion) there are many vessels; some of gold, some of silver, others of wood and of earth; some to honor and some to dishonor;--so also in a field, as we read in a parable, the wheat and tares grow together; in a household there are servants and sons; and in the Lord's barn-floor there is a large heap, consisting of wheat and chaff, In Zion there are both mourners and hypocrites. In the fold there are both sheep and goats. These things show they are not all Israel which are of Israel. And as this is the case, "The Lord will purge his floor;" he will separate the sheep from the goats. The Lord will in his own time distinguish between cattle and cattle; between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not: for "the Lord's fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem; (Isa. 31:9) and he will purify the sons of Levi as gold and silver is purified, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." (Mal. 3:3) The prophet Jeremiah was raised up by the Lord to do this work in his day; he was to take the precious from the vile, (Jer. 15:19) and the chaff from the wheat, "For what is the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord." (Jer. 23:28) And if ever there was a day when this work was called for, perhaps never more so than in the present day. How many there are in the church of God, or rather in gospel Zion, who have a name to live, but nothing more, and barely that. How many, with a form of godliness, and, if they do not in so many words deny the power, yet are total strangers to the gospel, which is "the power of God to salvation." How many there are who in words profess to know the Lord, but in works deny him. How many who have a clear knowledge of truth in the judgment but no experience of its power in the heart.
It is, therefore, the work of the minister of Christ to take the precious from the vile and the chaff from the wheat, and show the difference between a name to live and life itself; between a sheep and a goat; between foolish virgins with their empty lamps, and wise virgins with oil in their vessels with their lamps; between him that serveth God in newness of spirit, walking in newness of life, and him that serveth God in the oldness of the letter; between those who with their mouth show much love, but at the same time covetousness bears absolute sway in their hearts, and those the apostle speaks of, saying, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." (1 Pet. 1:8) If this is the work of a minister,--and I do not know how a man can show himself approved unto God as a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the work of truth, unless he does attend to these things,--is it the ministry of the present day? I fear not. But to return.
There certainly is in the midst of the vast body of professors a special, peculiar people, whom the Lord calls (in contradistinction to all others) "his people;" of whom he saith, "This people have I formed for myself, and they shall shew forth my praise." (Isa. 43:21) And the Lord saith by the mouth of the prophet, "I will leave in the midst of thee (that is, in the midst of Zion) an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." (Zep. 3:12) By another prophet he saith, "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God? (Isa. 50:10) Now the afflicted and poor people named in the first cited text, and they "that fear the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant," mentioned in the latter text, are those whom the Lord speaks of when he says, "I will redeem them from death." They are the Lord's chosen people of whom Peter speaks, saying, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people." (1 Pet. 2:9) The Lord saith, "The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen." (Isa. 43:20) For this people David prayed, saying, "Make thy chosen people joyful;" and at the same time begs to share in their joy, saying, "That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance." (Ps. 106:5) All that were chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world were redeemed by Christ, and in due time are called by grace. These blessings all take rise in the everlasting love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. God the Father loved them, and gave his dear Son to be the propitiation for their sins. Christ loved them, and "in his love and in his pity he redeemed them." (Isa. 63:9) And God the Holy Ghost, "for his great love wherewith he loved them, even when dead in sin, hath quickened them together with Christ: by grace ye are saved." (Eph. 2:4,5) Therefore, "Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." (Isa. 43:1) This people, although in some respects unknown, even as Christ was unknown, yet in other respects they are to be known; for "their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people; all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." (Isa. 61:9) Yes; "for they shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord; and thou shalt be called, Sought out, a city not forsaken." (Isa. 62:12) Well might it be said among the heathen that the Lord hath done great things for them; but the heathens could not speak with that deep feeling of heart upon Israel's deliverance as Zacharias did when he said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David." (Luke 1:68,69) But after all, the important question with the poor and needy sinner is, Am I one of the Lord's redeemed? I will therefore notice two or three texts of scripture in which the path and experience of the Lord's redeemed people is strikingly set forth:--
First. "It shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God." (Zech. 13:9) One of the two parts that shall be cut off is the ungodly world; the other part includes all in Zion, of whatever denomination, creed, class, character, or standing in a profession of religion, who are not born again; for "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." But the third part that is left therein is the poor and needy, the tempted and tried--in fact they are the Lord's chosen people in the furnace of affliction; for the Lord will bring them into the fire to purify and try them. At the same time he sits as a refiner to watch the fire and regulate the heat, so that not a single vessel of mercy shall be consumed in the fire--no, nor a particle of grace lost, only dross and tin; for they shall be brought through the fire, and have cause to say, "We have gone through the fire and through water; for thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." (Ps. 66:12) "They shall call upon my name." And who are they that call upon the name of the Lord out of a pure heart and of faith unfeigned, but poor, needy, lost, ruined, and undone sinners? And is it not in times of trouble and distress, when in the furnace of affliction, in fiery trials or temptations, or in one way or another under the chastening hand of God, that they call upon him? Yes, it is; for in trouble they visit the Lord, and pour out a prayer when his chastening is upon them. Dost thou know what it is to be in trouble, to be in the furnace of affliction and in manifold temptations, and in trouble to pour out thy heart to the Lord in prayer, and at times able in measure to cast thy burden upon the Lord? Then fear not; for the Lord is near to them that call upon him, "to all that call upon him in truth." (Ps. 145:18) He will in his own time speak to you, and say, "It is my people, thou art my child;" and then thy heart will say, "The Lord is my God." Once more. "The days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant I made with their fathers, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jer. 31:31-33; Heb. 8:8-10) And what law is here intended? Not the law of Moses, although that is written by the Spirit as with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond in the conscience of a guilty sinner. Yet that is the covenant he made with their fathers in the wilderness; the law that killeth, the law of sin and death. But this is to be a new covenant, not like the covenant made with their fathers. It is, therefore, not the law of Moses, but the law of Christ; not the law of mount Sinai, but the law that goeth forth from mount Sinai; not the law of death, but the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; not the law that gendereth to bondage, but the law of liberty, or in other words, it is the word of the truth of the gospel, written not with pen and ink, but by the Spirit of God; not on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of the heart; and in whomsoever this is wrought, such a person is a living epistle, read and known of all men. The law of God being in his heart, none of his steps shall slide. The kingdom of God is set up in his soul, which kingdom stands not in word but in power; not in meat or drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Ghost. When this is enjoyed, the sinner finds the law of Christ to be an easy yoke and his burden light. He truly delights in the law of God after the inner man, and saith with David, "I will run in the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." (Ps. 119:32) None but those redeemed from death, know anything of these laws being written in the heart.
But if these things be out of your reach, or beyond your experience, there is in the Scriptures a word suited to the weakest of the weak, for by the prophet Ezekiel the Lord saith, "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh; and I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes; and you shall be my people and I will be your God." (Ezek. 36:25-28) Now, has the Lord done any of these things for you? Water here denotes the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; also the washing of water by the word, as well as the blood of atonement, or a heart sprinkled from an evil conscience with the blood of Christ. Then new heart here promised is a heart prepared by God the Holy Ghost to receive the good seed, for the preparation of the heart is of God. "I am the vine," saith Christ, "and my Father is the husbandman." (John 15:1) And an husbandman will not sow his seed on a rock, nor in an uncultivated piece of land; for in either case it would be labor in vain; and the hearts of very many who hear the gospel, not being prepared, is the reason why the gospel preached does not profit them. It is like casting seed by the wayside, or among thorns, or in stony places. Hence the command, "Break up the fallow ground, sow not among thorns." (Jer. 4:3) When the Holy Ghost convinces a sinner of his sin, he knows what it is to have the fallow ground of his heart broken up, and the briers, thorns, filth, and rubbish which was before hid, laid open and bare--
"Swarms of ill thoughts their bane diffuse,
Proud, envious, false, unclean;
And every ransack'd corner shews
Some unsuspected sin."
Now, when the Holy Ghost applies the law to the sinner's conscience, it is as a hammer to break the rocky heart in pieces; and as a fire to burn and consume the rubbish, which is to make way for the good seed to be sown, for it to grow and flourish; and the more there is of this work going on in the soul, the better does the seed of the kingdom thrive, and the more fruit is there brought forth unto God. The heart of flesh promised is a feeling heart; the stony heart that was taken away was a lifeless, hard, unfeeling heart. But the new heart is a sensitive heart, equally so to pleasure or pain; to sorrow or joy; to light or darkness; if the Lord wounds, the heart feels the pain that the wound occasions; if he heals, the sinner feels in himself that he is made whole. If the Lord reproves, it enters more deeply into his heart than a hundred stripes into the back of a fool. And when the Lord pardons his sins, his heart is melted within him, from a deep feeling sense of the Lord's great goodness. On the other hand, if his sin is brought to his remembrance, and laid as a heavy weight upon his mind, he feels his heart pained within him, and a heaviness in his heart that maketh him to stoop. But if the Lord speaks thus to him, "I have put away thy sin, thou shalt not die," he feels his heart to burn with love to him. The new spirit that is promised is the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of the fear of the Lord; and this God has promised to put in the hearts of all his children, and has further said, "They shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels." (Mal. 3:17) Mark that! "They shall be mine!" It is a spirit of power by which we overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil; it is a spirit of prayer that helpeth our infirmities and maketh intercession for us; it is a spirit of faith, that draws the needy, perishing sinner to Christ; it is a spirit of love, and influences the heart to love Christ; it is a spirit of revelation that reveals Christ to the heart, and a spirit of understanding, that we might know him that is true; it is also a spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, "Abba, Father." This is the new spirit God has promised, and saith, "I will cause them to walk in my statutes." Yes, if the Spirit reveals Christ so walk ye in him." If ye have received the truth in the love of it, there will be walking in love to the truth. Yes, and there will be also, "Doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God," (Micah 6:8) AND "You shall be my people and I will be your God." Now what do we know of these things? None but the redeemed of the Lord experience these things, nor even they, only as they are led into, and made acquainted with them by the Spirit's leading and teaching. Therefore, if you know any of these things, I believe you are included in the number of whom it is said in the text, "I will redeem them from death."
I now pass on to notice, thirdly, the death mentioned in the text, from which they are delivered by this glorious Redeemer, and the Lord's method of redeeming them. Death is the sentence passed on man for his sin. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." (Ezek. 18:4,20) Sin entered into the world and death by sin, so that death is passed upon all men, for "all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12) There is a threefold death in the sentence.
1st.--The death of the body. "It is appointed unto all men once to die." (Heb. 9:27)
2ndly.--Spiritual death, or a death in trespasses and sins.
3rdly.--Eternal death of both body and soul
I will attempt to notice several different branches of redemption as mentioned in the word of God. The apostle, speaking of Christ, saith, "he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," for "cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (Gal. 3:13) Thus he died the "just for the unjust," (1 Pet. 3:18) and to this end he came into the world, for he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45) And again, "I lay down my life for my sheep." (John 10:15) Thus the spotless Lamb of God is slain, and the life of the firstborn is redeemed. Well may it be said, "The redemption of the soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever." (Ps. 49:8) "I will redeem them from death." Not only are they redeemed from the curse of the law, but they are redeemed unto God; not only redeemed from death, but are pardoned, and made heirs according to the hope of eternal life; for saith the apostle, "We have redemption in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins;" (Eph. 1:7) and "Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his blood, (Rev. 1:5) and redeemed us to God," (Rev. 5:9) will be the song of the redeemed in heaven.
But then those who are mentioned in the text are dead in trespasses and sins; but what of that? "I will redeem them from death," saith their Redeemer; and this is done by the power that attends his word, "never man spake like this man, for his words are with power." "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live," (John 5:25) for it is "the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." (John 6:63) "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." (John 6:63) And the Lord, speaking of the child that was cast out into the open field in its filth and pollution, saith, "And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood Live." (Ezek. 16:6) Thus the sinner, dead in sin, hears the voice of the Son of God and is made to live; and all such will with David confess it, and say, "Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave, thou hast kept me alive." (Ps. 30:3) Yea, "This is my comfort in my affliction, thy word hath quickened me." (Ps. 119:50) "I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish," (John 10:27,28) saith the good Shepherd, "For I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Such are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;" (John 1:13) "They are born again of the incorruptible seed by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever," (1 Pet. 1:23) and being blessed with eternal life in their souls, it is that they may walk in newness of life, and serve God in newness of spirit, and through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, and live not to themselves but unto God. The life of God in the soul is a wellspring of living water, springing up into everlasting life. All the hungerings, thirstings, longings, pantings, and vehement breathings of the soul after spiritual blessings, together with earnest prayer and supplication to God with groanings that cannot be uttered, the buddings forth of faith, and the springing up of hope, and the joy that attends it, with praise and thanksgiving for mercies received, and love to God the giver of all, these things all take their rise, and flow out of this wellspring of living water in the soul. "He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38) And when the Lord grants the poor sinner the desires of his heart, and satisfieth his longing soul, filleth his hungry soul, comforteth his sorrowful soul, and satiates his weary soul, making it as a well-watered garden, he may be said to drink water out of his own cistern, and running water out of his own well. And in this way, "A good man is satisfied from himself." (Prov. 14:14)
But another branch of redemption consists in being delivered from the bondage of the law, as well as from the curse of it, from the fear of death as well as from death itself; and as death is recorded in the law against the sinner, the same sentence is by the Spirit of God recorded in the sinner's guilty conscience. When this takes place he receives the sentence of death in himself, the law being the ministration of death; for condemnation and death is all the law can minister to the soul. But, "I will redeem them from death." It may then be asked how? Why, as it is the letter that killeth, so it is the Spirit that giveth life. The law came by Moses, but grace to pardon sin, and truth to set the captive free, came by Jesus Christ; and so the Publican found it when he was sent down to his house a pardoned sinner; for the law of life in Christ Jesus had made him free from the law of sin and death; the Son of God had made him free, and he was free indeed. And the promise to all his redeemed children is, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) Again, "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24) When a man with the heart believeth unto righteousness, and with his mouth makes confession to salvation, saying, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness," (Isa. 61:10) he then, through faith, passes from the sentence of death to justification to life eternal, and peace is the blessed effect of it; for, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1) This is being justified freely by his grace, namely, the free favor of God, and the channel through which this blessing flows to the sinner is the blood of Christ, or Christ crucified; and he is experimentally justified upon his believing, and therefore delivered from death, and shall never again come into condemnation.
But there is another branch of redemption from death mentioned in the book of Job 33:23,24. "If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness, then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom." Here is a person drawing near to the grave, and his life to the destroyer, and with him an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto the dying man God's uprightness. And such an interpreter was Elihu to Job. The uprightness of God is couched in these words, "He will not justify the wicked, nor condemn the righteous; righteousness is the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins." (Isa. 11:5) He will minister judgment to the people in righteousness. And as it is a righteous thing with God to condemn all who die in their sins, so it is equally a righteous thing with God to pardon, acquit, and justify all who believe in Jesus. In their case, "Judgment returns unto righteousness; mercy and truth meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other." (Ps. 85:10) God is just in forgiving sin, and cleansing the sinner from unrighteousness. What a blessed message! What a welcome messenger is such an one to a soul drawing near to the grave. Many of the Lord's people have strong bands in their death; the enemy is suffered to buffet them, and the Lord is pleased to hide his face from them, and when he does this, the valley of the shadow of death is indeed a dark valley. Now, one who can interpret the dark sayings and dispensations, the dark and dreadful temptations, and what is the design of the Almighty, and what is the language and voice of God in these dispensations to a person, must indeed be an interpreter one among a thousand; for although the Lord does make use of men as interpreters, yet none but God the Holy Ghost can rightly, and to the comfort and satisfaction of the tempted and tried people of God, read the handwriting in these dark and trying things. What a blessing it is, particularly in dying circumstances, to have this blessed interpreter, and find God to be indeed gracious unto him, saying, "Redeem him from going down into the pit, I have found a ransom." The last branch of redemption from death that I shall notice, is the raising up of the bodies of the saints from their graves, for "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise," (Isa. 26:19) saith the Lord, who is the resurrection and the life, and hath the keys of death and of hell, and saith, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave: O death, I will be thy plague--O grave, I will be thy destruction--and repentance shall be hid from mine eyes." (Hosea 13:14) David anticipated this when he said, "Thou which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side." (Ps. 71:20) "And if the spirit of him who raised up Christ from the dead will also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit which dwelleth in you." (Rom. 8:11) This was the redemption Paul waited for, saying, "When the Lord shall descend from heaven, with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, the dead in Christ shall rise first." (1 Thess. 4:16) "Therefore, respecting those who die in the Lord, we sorrow not as others who have no hope, for if we believe that Christ died and rose again, even them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." (1 Thess. 4:13,14)
"Their bodies shall slumber in Jesus awhile,
Till the trumpet resounds through the sky;
Then, bursting the fetters of death with a smile,
They'll enter the mansions on high."
Then will be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:54-57) And then, in the fullest sense of the word, "The ransomed of the Lord, shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isa. 35:10) All who are redeemed from death are also redeemed from this ungodly world; and this branch is effected by the power of God put forth in effectual calling, for "thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." (Ps. 110:3) "And these John saw in heaven, and heard them harping upon their harps with them who were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." (Rev. 14:2,4) They are also redeemed from a vain conversation. Hence, let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ. "Let your conversation be without covetousness." (Heb. 13:5) And again, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?" (2 Pet. 3:10,11) And vain is that person's religion whose tongue is not bridled; tamed, it cannot be--but it is by the power of grace bridled. They are also redeemed from the hands of their enemy the Devil, for the "prey shall be taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered." (Isa. 49:24) This takes place when he that is stronger than this strong man cometh upon him. (Luke 11:22) And not only so but the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly; (Rom. 16:20) for, "I will," saith the Saviour, "give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19) What a blessing is this; and yet we are rather to rejoice because our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20) than because the devils are made subject to us. They are also redeemed from deceit and violence. Grace that saves the soul will make it honest and upright; and that grace which is as salt to preserve the soul, will keep a person from laying violent hands upon himself. Instance, the case of Job--Satan tempted him, and his own wife counseled him to curse God and die. But God preserved him; and Job acknowledges this mercy, saying, "What shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men?" But if the redeemed, through the deceit, craft, policy, and influence, together with the enmity, malice, and desperate hatred of wicked men, and Satan at their head, should be overcome and slain, as touching their bodies (and many have been put to death,) yet precious shall their blood be in his sight. The Lord grant that when we shall have accomplished as an hireling our day on earth, we may join that blessed company in heaven (and I doubt not that our dear departed friend is now among them) in singing, "Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people." (Rev. 5:9)