"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (John 11:25)
"Methinks this royal mandate of my Lord,
To cheer the heart of drooping Mary, when
Her brother lay a corpse, thrill'd through her soul
With sacred fire and everlasting joy;
Was wafted to the realms of endless bliss
On wings of wind, and echo'd round the throne,
Inscrib'd in golden words on every side,
That when the mighty Saviour rose from earth
He took His seat upon His Father's throne,
That thence the edict might be sounded forth,
I am the resurrection and the life."
Ye souls, who feel your deadness in your present ruined state, open wide your ears, listen to the proclamation; and if you have no life in yourselves--if there be no life in ordinances--if there be no life in the preacher--if there be no life in prayer--hearken to the voice of Him who saith, "I am the resurrection and the life."
The narrative in which this sacred, holy proclamation is made, is truly interesting. It is said that "Jesus loved Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus;" and yet Lazarus is suffered to be sick and die. Jesus is told, "Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick;" but He says, "This sickness is not unto death, but that God may be glorified." That is, not unto a death that could hold him; and He waits three days before He goes nigh him. Then He says, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." And they said, "Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well." Then He said plainly, "I go to awake him." Then He said, still more plainly, "Our friend Lazarus is dead." Now all this marks the omnipotence, the immutability, and the infinitude of our precious Christ. He was under an agreement--He had made the arrangements in the covenant of peace what He would do, and He had fixed the day on which Lazarus was to be raised from the dead, and the preaching of His sermon to the family on the occasion, which was to be of use to the Church of God to the end of time. He would not go and say, "Be whole," as He had said to the lepers and others; not on the day He was told of it, nor on the next day. Why? Because they were neither of them the day fixed in the covenant of grace. He must stop till the day appointed, till the hour arrived; and then, when He comes to poor Mary--there was a good deal of family affection about her; I cannot help admiring her-she says, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died." He cannot die along with Jesus--He is life itself. The answer given her was, "Thy brother shall rise again." Now just review the soundness of Mary's faith. "I know He shall rise again at the resurrection of the just." Then comes forth the magnificent proclamation of my Lord in the text--"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
Now, my purpose is from these words, if the Lord shall give me strength, first of all to invite your attention to the proclamation; then to the use we should make of it; and then to the triumph connected with it. I do not know, nor can I guess, to what extent I may be able to go on, for such a week of suffering I think I never before endured, and my poor frame has been sinking under it. I was going to say, so much the better, but I ought to leave that with God. When they told me this morning that my dear brother Clifton had got safely home, I could not help envying him--out of all bodily weakness, and away from every toil and care, "for ever with the Lord." Well, let us live in the anticipation of it. Do not let us wish God to hurry the matter before His own date; for if He could not raise Lazarus from the dead before the hour came, He cannot take one of His children home till the hour comes.
I. First of all let me invite your attention to the proclamation, "I am the resurrection and the life." Now the testimony of Christ's own literal resurrection by Himself is of vast importance, and this is among the distinct testimonies which He gives. When He told His disciples, on another occasion, that He should go up to Jerusalem, and that He should be ill treated by the chief priests and Jews, and be crucified, He added, "and the third day I will rise again." There was His testimony concerning it. All powers were employed to prevent it, but here is His testimony, "I am the resurrection and the life." Now the resurrection of Christ was in such wise as to set aside all opposition and demonstrate the fact. I know there have been plenty of cavilings about it, but I know they have all amounted to nothing more nor better than childish stories about the soldiers; and if it could be once put on a footing of something like credibility by Infidels that the resurrection of Christ was not literally a fact, "then our faith is vain," saith the apostle, "and ye are yet in your sins." (1 Cor. 15:17) It is, therefore, important that we detain you a little while upon the detailed circumstances that demonstrated the literal fact despite all opposition.
After they had laid Him in the tomb, His bitter enemies pursued Him even there, and said, Now we have got Him we will hold Him fast. They did not know He was omnipotent, and they went to Pilate and said, "We know that that deceiver said, while He was yet among us, After three days I will rise again." (Matt. 27:63) Now you see the thing was not done secretly to evade the vigilance of enemies; He had apprised them of it before; and that very statement which had comforted His disciples was a challenge of defiance to His enemies. Hold me if you can. "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again." (John 10:18) Now, says Pilate, go your way, and have all the means you like--the watch, and the guard, and so on; and they went, and they rolled the stone to the mouth of the sepulcher, and they sealed the stone, and they set their watch and their guard (Roman soldiers.) Now it is worth our while for a moment to take a literal view of the position in which our blessed Lord was laid. We are told it was a new tomb, hewn out of a rock; and we have the fullest historical account that it consisted of an outer and an inner chamber. The outer chamber was about fourteen feet square, hewn out of solid rock. No walls built there that could be pulled down in an hour--it was hewn out of a rock. At the upper end of that stone, more in the heart of the rock, there was an inner tomb, about six feet by twelve, more or less, and within that inner tomb the precious body of our beloved Lord was laid. It is said at the further end of it, upon a bench, the outer room of fourteen feet square filled with Roman soldiers, armed. Now look for a moment at the idle story, that the disciples came and stole Him away by night, while they slept; and see, in the first place, as dear old Dr. Hawker says, the testimony is the testimony of men fast asleep--that is not worth much. In the next place, picture to yourselves two or three disciples, who "all forsook Him and fled," climbing over the legs of the soldiers stretched across the floor, with all their arms about them, and not waking one of them; and then picture to yourselves their rolling over the stone, breaking all the soldiers' legs as they moved it, and carrying out the body with all that bustle, without waking one of them. There is nothing more ridiculous under heaven; and yet it is recorded in the precious book of God, that this story went current with them. It is like every other feature of infidelity, it is the most incredible and ridiculous that can be conceived. Now I believe the Bible statements--that whilst all possible means were adopted for securing the body, an angel came down from heaven and rolled back the stone. "His countenance was like lightning, and for fear of him the keepers did shake and quake, and became as dead men"--not fast asleep. They were aroused and affrighted, they could not stir, or move an arm to touch the angel, or prevent the stone from being rolled back. He rolled it back and sat upon it, bidding them all defiance. And Jesus does not want to be carried out--He rises, and leaves the napkin from around His head behind Him, and marches through them all and meets His disciples. This is the literal, and real, and positive account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "I am the resurrection." This detail of literal facts ought not to be uninteresting, because it may furnish something like a repelling weapon against the artifices of infidelity in these days.
Now, be it remembered, beloved, that while all the powers of darkness withstood, and all the malice of human beings wrought up to its highest pitch, was put forth and foamed against our precious Christ, He comes forward and triumphs over them all. "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again." Do observe the decretal concerning this. We are told about decretals of poor wicked sinners, Cardinals, and Councils, and Popes--all whose decretals they learned from the devil--but here is a decretal we learn from God. It is recorded in the 16th Psalm, and it is cited in the language we read at the commencement of this service, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." I find it so expressly stated, that the Holy One never saw corruption; and it is contrasted with what is said of David, who might be supposed to be His type in the Psalm from which it is cited, for the apostle is directed to go on and state that David, after he had served his generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised from the dead saw no corruption. My body will see corruption, will mingle with the dust, will crumble to the earth whence it came, and the particles of that earth may be scattered to the four winds of heaven, and I have not a single anxious thought about that--God well knows where to find them when He wants them--but of our precious Christ this could not be, because, though He was three days in the tomb, it is repeatedly declared that he saw no corruption. There was not a sign of decomposition on His body; He rose as pure and perfect as when He hung on the cross; His wounds were conspicuous, the scars were on His hands and side; and though the blood might have been washed off by His faithful disciples, yet there were the marks of the scars and wounds, and He rose in that very character. And my firm belief is, whatever foolish mortals may think proper to write to the contrary, that He is now exhibiting the very marks of the thorns, the very prints of the nails, the very scars of the spear, as the pleas that He uses before God. And if any man tells me this is not consistent with His being a glorified body, I reply, It is the more glorified. There is glory in every dot of the thorn point--there is glory in every print of the rugged nails--there is glory upon the very wound in His side, as well as glory forming an eternal and immense halo round His glorious countenance. It is a glorified body, and yet it is a risen body--the same body. Now if there were no prints of the nails they could not have seen the marks--if there were no marks of the spear, He could not have said to unbelieving Thomas, "Thrust thy hand into my side. (John 20:27) There must have been marks, or how could He have so invited the disciples? It is the same body, beloved, that was crucified by Pontius Pilate; and I query if the furrows that were ploughed on His back would not be visible to us now if we could get a sight of Him. He is glorified for ever. And He is not only glorified as King of kings and Lord of lords, but as the glorious man Christ Jesus, the Saviour, the Surety, the Daysman, the Mediator, that He might have something to offer and something to show; and He has got all this at present in the immediate presence of God.
This decree, then, must be accomplished in the resurrection of our beloved Lord. And do not overlook the fact, that this was the reward of His sufferings, "the joy set before Him," for which "He endured the cross, despising the shame." (Heb. 12:2) Consequently, when the apostle is directed by the Holy Ghost to remind the Philippians of His sufferings, and that "He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross," he is directed to add, "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him;" (Phil. 2:8,9) and in this high exaltation the apostle says He is "declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (Rom. 1:4)
Do not overlook that the Father's power and His own are equally acknowledged therein. "Whom God hath raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses," saith the apostle. (Acts 3:15) He Himself declared, "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again; and I have received this commandment of my Father." (John 10:18) The authority and power were His own, nor could sin, death, and hell hold Him fast, because the reward was His, and He had the receipt in full of all demands for His Church. There is a beautiful conclusion which the apostle makes in the 4th of Romans: "He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:25) So that when He was delivered He was paying His Church's debt.
"I take my stand beside His cross,
To count the drops of blood
That issued from His sacred pores;
But, ah, arithmetic has failed.
I tried in vain to count.
Sins, numberless, were laid on Him,
But drops of precious blood,
More efficacious than the sins were vile,
Hath wash'd them all away."
He was delivered in His Church's behalf. Law and justice stood in menacing form before the cross. "Pay me that thou owest." (Matt. 18:28) His life was laid down--the answer to law and justice was found in the shout, "It is finished." (John 19:30) He is the victim of both on behalf of His Church; and being laid in the tomb to prove the reality of His death, He must rise to exhibit the receipt. A sight of the crucified Saviour in heaven was the receipt in full of all demands for all the Old Testament saints, that had gone there before--a receipt in full of all demands, which angels were allowed to hear read, though not to look into, as much as they desired. And when a sinner saved by grace obtains a sight of Christ, looks at His wounds, beholds His bleeding heart, reads the wonders of His dying love, and says, "All this He did for me;" he gets the receipt, and clasps it to his bosom. "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1) The receipt in full of all demands is in Jesus resurrection.
Now, be it observed, that this testimony of the literal resurrection upon which I felt it important to dwell, is the revelation of His responsibility for His Church's salvation--for you know we are said to be crucified with Him, to be dead with Him, to be risen with Him, and to have in prospect the bliss of reigning with Him to all eternity. Now the first view which I must take of the resurrection of His Church, is that which He sent His angel to proclaim to John, in the Isle of Patmos, which some make a sad carnal use of, but which I view in the following sense. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." (Rev. 20:6) Now I believe, that whatever collateral meaning may be drawn out of it besides, the first, and prominent, and literal meaning of that verse is, the resurrection from a death of sin to a life of righteousness--the spiritual resurrection, and blessed and holy is he that hath part in it. Now the resurrection of Christ reveals His responsibility for this. "If I go away, I will send the Comforter," (John 16:7) and He shall perform the work engaged for in covenant with me and the Father, for "as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. (John 5:26,21) And that quickening power of Christ is going forth, day by day, to effect this first resurrection, in the hearts of sinners that are dead in trespasses and sins. Do, my hearers, believe that every child of Adam, in his natural state, is dead in trespasses and sins, and that nothing less than the fulfillment of Christ's promise can affect the resurrection in which He says, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25) Therein He made Himself responsible. What had all my preaching for the last thirty-three years been worth but for this? I should have regretted that I had worn our this poor old frame in such labor--I should have regretted that I had spent my life in such a manner, had it not been for the sweet and satisfactory knowledge that hundreds, within these walls, have heard the voice of the Son of God, and have begun to live; and I hope He will not keep me on earth any longer than He means to speak by me for that purpose.
Now this resurrection to newness of life is very strikingly set forth by a representation of the first fruits before the harvest; and hence, when the apostle speaks in the 15th of Corinthians of the resurrection of the dead, he says, "Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (1 Cor. 15:23) and our Lord, speaking expressly of the spiritual resurrection says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall unto the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24) Now Christ's death and resurrection was that corn of wheat, and a blessed heavy corn it was. That fell into the ground, and died, and was buried in Joseph's sepulcher. Had not that been the case, He had remained alone for ever, and had never had one of the election of grace whom the Father gave Him in His presence to enjoy and glorify Him; but now it bringeth forth much fruit. The fruits of Christ's resurrection are seen in the conversion of souls, in the bringing of sinners to His feet, in the regeneration of Adam's posterity--the election of grace among them. And this is a striking remark too by the apostle, when he breaks out in a holy ecstasy about it, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope"--(come, here is the resurrection)--"who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," (1 Pet. 1:3) as the responsible, earnest, really the firstfruits, really the pledge lodged in heaven, and presented before the Father, for the spiritual resurrection, and afterwards the literal resurrection, of all the family of God.
Now a word or two about the literal resurrection of the saints. The prophet Daniel gave a striking view of it when he said that a day was at hand in which all that were in their graves should come forth and rise--they that had done good to the resurrection of life, and they that had done evil to the resurrection of damnation; or, I believe, to use his own words, "to everlasting shame and contempt." (Dan. 12:2) The apostle says, in very beautiful words, that the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed, and that the dead in Christ shall rise first. (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16) I love that statement; there is something in it so dignifying to the Church of God, as well as expressive of the peculiar care of Christ--that the dead in Christ shall rise first. I know it might be explained to mean first in dignity, first in quality, first in greatness, first in endearment to the heart of Christ; but I must have first in order also. I believe they shall rise first in order. I pray you, what is the husbandman most careful about getting into his barn--the chaff or the wheat? I think it is the wheat that he is most anxious to gather together, and take peculiar care of every grain. The chaff is blown about hither and thither frequently. God's saints, in union with Christ, are His corn, the firstfruits of Christ's resurrection, and they must be raised first, must be housed, must be gathered into His barn. "Gather my wheat into my barn," is His own expression in the parable. (Matt. 13:30) It is ridiculous to talk about difficulties now-a-days, when God Himself is to be the performer. If you were to present difficulties to me, I do not know how to climb a mole-hill of difficulties now-a-days; but my God knows nothing about difficulties. There was no difficulty at all in the way of Christ's resurrection, though there were such that none of the disciples could have surmounted; but when Omnipotence is to be employed, had the stone been the largest mountain in creation rolled at the door, it had been no impediment; had the guards been all the legions of the powers of darkness, they must have equally stood aghast. Omnipotence is put forth, and the resurrection of Jesus is certain. Then so is the resurrection of all His saints, because you must bear in mind, beloved, that the union is indissoluble. Inasmuch as the pangs of death, in all its extremity of horrors, could not separate God the Son from God the Father, so death, in any or all its forms, shall never separate God the Son from the members of His mystical body. They have been one from everlasting, in virtual union; they are manifestly one in time, by vital union, and they cannot be separated either by death or the grave, and therefore the apostle talks about their sleeping in Him, and says "The Spirit that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall raise up us also by Him." (Rom. 8:11) So that whatever separation, in point of feeling, there may be between you, and me, and Christ, so that we may not have a sight of Him, so that we may not have a sensible enjoyment of His presence, and clouds and darkness may be round about Him, there can be no real separation. "I in them, and thou in me," (John 17:23) and they perfect in one. This is His own declaration, and this vital union is known and felt by His beloved believing followers, and can never be destroyed; and though, says Job (for he was somewhat conscious of this doctrine,) "after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." (Job 19:26) My precious Christ, my Redeemer, laid down His life for my body as well as my soul--He redeemed both; and though He only regenerate one while I am on earth, He will regenerate the other after death in the resurrection, and I shall see Him in a glorious body like His own.
I meant to have followed these particulars a little further, but I should be sorry to cut off the other parts of our discourse; and therefore I must hasten on. Do not forget that the union of which I am speaking, and is made vital by the operations of the Deity in the soul, through the instrumentality of living faith, has been virtual and real from all eternity, and can never be destroyed. I would as soon give up my Bible as give up the doctrine of eternal union with Christ, because if I ever get a union with Christ, which I once had not, then it must follow of necessity that He has changed His mind, that the Father has changed His mind, and that the records of heaven all want altering every hour, and there is no security for anything. But if my vital union be known, and felt, and sweetly enjoyed, and by which I derive my nourishment from Him, it is but the going forth, the breaking forth, the issuing forth of the virtual union which has existed from all eternity. Then I have a principle to fall back upon--that however flat, however dark, however deathly, my union with Christ may sometimes appear, with regard to my own frames and feelings, it is all alive in Him, and He is my resurrection and my life.
I must offer a word or two on the other phrase in the proclamation--"Life." He is the source and center of all spiritual life. I shall pass by His being as Creator the Author of natural, and animal, and vegetable, and mental, and every other description of life, just to show that He is the source and center of all spiritual life. Paul was sweetly conscious of this; and though in one of his statements he seems to have made a mistake in a phrase, he recalls himself immediately--"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live," no--"not I," he says, "Christ liveth in me." (Gal. 2:20) That is his life--"Christ liveth in me." Then to the Colossians he says, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear." (Col. 3:4) Thus the beloved John was directed to set it down--"He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (1 John 5:12) Suffer me to remind my hearers as though I should never do so any more; for I wish now particularly to preach every sermon as my last, that unless Christ dwells in your hearts by faith, you have no spiritual life; and if you have no spiritual life, you can have no real just claim to eternal life. "Christ in me the hope of glory," (Col. 1:27) not only supplies me with all the sustenance and nourishment which the life he has newly created requires day by day, but secures to me the eternal life of which it is both the pledge and the earnest.
Now let us just glance at this precious book, before we close this part of our subject. "The words," says Christ, "that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." (John 6:63) And yet the matter of fact is that thousands of persons that are Bible readers in the present day never saw, nor felt, nor received any life in the grace of faith. Why it may be read in the synagogues every day, as it was in the days of Moses: and yet it is a dead letter, there is no life. Yea, preachers, without number may deliver eloquent discourses from Christ's own words, yea, and orthodox ones too, and there may be no life, it may be a dead letter after all. I want my hearers to fasten on the importance of this point. If any one sentence of my lips comes with power and life to your soul, it is Christ Himself; it is Jesus speaking by the power of His Spirit; it is Jesus repeating the words that I speak to you. "The words that I speak unto you," He says, "they are spirit and they are life:" and no other words are. The whole twelve apostles might come and preach to you an hour a-piece, and keep you twelve hours listening with deepest interest to their statements, and there might be no life--not a spark of life. But when the gospel is preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, then there is spiritual life; and not only do sinners receive life divine into their hearts, a new creation, the life of God in their souls, but it is sustained, and supported, and supplied, grace for grace, out of the fullness of Christ, and generally by the proclamations of His truth, which are spirit and life.
II. Now let us offer a word very briefly upon the use we should make of this proclamation. I have dwelt the greater part of our time upon the proclamation itself, because of its importance; and upon the other points I shall only give a few cursory hints. My text says, it is "he that believeth in Me." Now the use I want you and my own soul to make of this proclamation, is to investigate the point closely whether we believe in Him. Here hangs all as regards evidence. Do weigh it, do investigate it closely. It were an awful thing for any of my hearers to drop from the pew into hell with the news of Christ's death and resurrection ringing in their ears, but not having reached their hearts. An awful thing to rise to everlasting shame and contempt. Despisers of Christ, it must be so, unless you are found believers in Him. "He that believeth in me." What is it to believe in Jesus? I do not know that I can tell you a more brief and concise way, if you will forgive my egotism, than by telling you how I believe in Him. And I would not put it in that form if I were not as satisfied as I can be of anything out of heaven that He has made me a believer in Him, many, many long years; and that belief is not to be easily shaken. I believe in the way of assent, and I believe in the way of appropriation, and I believe in the way of application.
I believe in the way of assent, and that is all that some people know about believing. Even their assent is not worth much, for it does not go a tenth part far enough. In the way of assent I believe in His Person as co-equal with the Father, "over all, God blessed for evermore." All the devils give their assent to that though Socinians will not. I believe, in the way of assent, to His official character; that He is Head over all things to His Church, and not to the world. I believe in His perfect work; that it has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. I believe in the efficacy of His blood, and positively reject all other sacrifices and atonements, all other interference, priestly, ghostly interpositions, that only want to line their own pockets, and send souls to hell by multitudes. I despise them all from my inmost soul, and simply because I believe in Christ's perfect work. If I did not believe His work to be a perfect one I should be looking out for something else to complete it; but as I believe His to be a perfect work, I not only want no other, but I reject and despise all other pretensions to merit and acceptance before God. I believe in His triumphs over sin, death, and hell; I believe in His ascension and intercession at the right hand of the Father; I believe in His exaltation, and His appointment to be the final Judge of quick and dead. Now all these things we believe in the way of assent. Will you bear with me in my severity if I tell you, a man may credit all this and go to hell at last. Say you, Is it possible? Yes; the devils and lost souls there credit all that; they cannot dispute it; they know to their cost that it is so.
Now, I want the next feature of believing on Him. I want a belief in the way of appropriation. I believe just as Paul believed, that He "loved me, and gave Himself for me;" and it thrills through my soul with celestial joy, it makes me half glorified, to utter the language, "He loved me and gave Himself for me." My Saviour, shall not this be my first salutation, when I behold thee upon thy throne? "That's the Lord, that's the glorious Christ, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." He "bore my sins in His own body on the tree;" He canceled my debt, He conquered my foes, He took away my transgressions, He gave me His righteousness and His merits. That is what I believe--just as we put it on our first Card Tract,
"All that He is, and has, and does, I claim,
To all His promises He writes my name;
All that He suffers to be done, must be
ruled by His everlasting love to me."
That is believing in the way of appropriation. I believed in that way long before that card was written, and that was written more than thirty years ago. "Well then you determine to be as much an Antinomian as ever." Yes, God keeping me, I do, and I never mean to lower my colors a single inch.
I believe also, in the way of application. I know that application is the Holy Ghost's work--but when I speak of application, I mean the carrying the blood of atonement within the veil, and making use of it before God--pleading that blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel, and then earnestly crying for a renewed application of it to my conscience by the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.
"My willing soul would stay
In such a frame as this,
And sit and preach itself away,
To everlasting bliss."
But look for a moment further at the use. What use should we make of this precious proclamation of our Lord and Saviour? Why, we should use for it the nourishment of faith, and the neutralizing of unbelief and fear. And my poor tempted, tried, and timid brother, let me just say to you as often as the devil comes with his ifs, and buts, and peradventures, as often as he scruples your interest and your right in the precious Christ of God, just come forth with the proclamation, "I am the resurrection and the life," and you will frighten the devil. "I am the resurrection and the life." I know it, Satan, for He has raised me from a death of sin to newness of life; I know it, for He is the life of my soul, and I cannot live without Him.
III. Now a word or two about the triumphs in which all must issue. And here enough opens to my view to occupy a day, to occupy all eternity. What shall be the final triumphs of Christ's resurrection, and the consequent resurrection of His Church, for which He is responsible? Why, the household shall be perfected, the inheritance shall be possessed, and the majesty shall be proclaimed.
The household shall be perfected. O fear not, fear not. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." (John 6:37) "This is the will of Him that sent me, saith my precious Master, "that of all that the Father giveth me I should lose none." What, not that little one, Lord? What, not that crooked one? "No, I will make the little one grow, and I will make the crooked one straight." What, not that dirty one? "No, I will wash him in my blood." What, not that wandering one, not that backsliding one? "No, I will fetch him back with my crook." "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish," (Matt. 18:14) but, "this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6:39) Consequently, the household must be perfect.
"I hail the scene just bursting on my view;
The rocks, the tombs, the seas give up their dead;
The world's in flames--yon azure vault is cleft
In twain, the rocks and mountains all destroy'd;
And time, at length worn out, is at an end.
The vast expanse now opens to my sight:
Myriads of ransom'd souls surround the throne;
A multitude no mortal man can tell,
From every nation, kindred, people, tongue,
Once dead in sin, now wash'd in blood divine,
Redeem'd, renew'd, made meet for endless bliss;
A harp there is for each, a crown, a palm.
The proclamation echoes from each lip,
'Behold my Resurrection and my life:'
While Jesus meets the Church He ever lov'd,
And straightway turning to His Father, says,
"I'm here, and all whom thou hast given me."
The household must be complete. If, as in olden time, good old Samuel would not hold a feast, would not offer sacrifice, would not enter upon any worship--till little David was brought before him, and said, "I can do nothing till He comes"--methinks my Lord would say, if there should be one of His little ones absent on that day, as He calls each one over from His roll, "I will not crown one of them till he comes; I will not open the kingdom of heaven to one of them till they are all there." "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" must reach the soul that is ransomed by blood Divine, nor can one be left behind.
Then the inheritance to be possessed. Only let me just remind you how the apostle describes it, "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." (1 Pet. 1:4) (For you, unbelievers? No.)--"reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation." (1 Pet. 1:5)
And then who shall proclaim the majesty? I dare not attempt it. All the perfections and personalities of Deity in full orbed glory, shedding infinite bliss throughout the myriads brought home to His presence. We know a little of Omnipotence in the operations of grace. We know a little of Omniscience by His watching over our paths. We know a little of Omnipresence by our communion with Him in every place. But then His glorious attributes and perfections shall be unfolded, without a veil, without a medium, without a glass, directly, without anything intervening, and we shall be like Him, and see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2) Oh, ye glorified spirits! I leave it to you now, till I join you to proclaim the majesty of my eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Where now is the doctrine of contingencies, conditions, overtures, and creature merit? It is not the inspired volume, not in biblical vocabulary, not in a Christian's creed. Where now is an inch of footing for priestly interference, with all the studied deceptions of Popery? Christ has done all--paid all--suffered all--secured all--and is now risen and exalted to bestow all the blessings of His perfect work upon His redeemed Church. Oh that His glorious voice may now be heard among you, to quicken such as are dead in trespasses and sins, and to enliven, comfort, and animate such as already know Him to be their resurrection and life, then shall the Triune Jehovah be glorified.