« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
their dead bodies : “He shall call, and they shall arıswer him out of the dust." Neither death nor hell shall retain them for an instant. They shall spring up in all the alertness of spiritual and incorruptible bodies—shall be fashioned like unto his own glorious body, and go, in their whole persons, to be for ever with the Lord.
All these things the apostle saw-saw them in the light and with the eyes of that faith which is the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for. They left on his soul an impression never to be obliterated: an impression as deep and vivid as the seal of the Holy Ghost-as the image of the living God. Whenever, afterward, he speaks of his Redeemer, and of his people's hope in him, his spirit catches fire. O, how unlike the men who are cased in triple ice when they approach the throne of the Son of God! He darts up into the heavens, and when he descends again to earth, it is to scatter
“ Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn." Hear this child of faith and of the skies, singing and shouting, and welcoming the decease which was to take him home :-I am now ready to be of fered, and the time of my departure is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto them also that love his appearing.
Throughout his whole representation of the glory, grace, and promises of Christ, it will not fail to be observed, that there is not so much as a hint of any doubt. The Christian religion is not a religion of doubts. Doubting Christians there are, but doubting faith there is none. And it is only when their faith is very low, that there is any place for doubt. “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt ??! The religion of which God is the author, cannot be a religion of doubts. He is the immutable Truth. There is no room for conjectures, or mere opinions. It is a dishonor to its glorious Revealer, to say upon a subject of eternal hope, “ That it is my opinion.” Your opinion--and to what more is it entitled than the opinion of another man? But when you speak peremptorily, “ This is the truth of God,” the ground tirely changed—then “ to the law and the testimony.” Accordingly the declaration of Paul has no conjecture about it. He speaks with the confidence of a man intimately acquainted with Jesus Christ; “ I KNOW whom I have be lieved.” A gracious boldness, for an example of which you may in vain turn over the ten thousand pages of philosophical Christians. They know nothing of Jesus Christ, the Saviour. They have a great many notions ; they sport their several opinions; they are very wise in their own conceit ; but about the Lord Jesus, his glory, and his grace, whatever they may prate, they know nothing, and have not the effrontery to pretend that they know any thing; for the object of all their philosophy is to strip him of his glory, and to fritter away his grace, till it is not worth a sinner's acceptance. But what says Paul ? I know him ; there is no uncertainty in the matter ; I know him, and am persuaded he is able to keep what I have committed unto him.
II. We are thus brought to the second point; which is the apostle's confidence that every thing is safe in the hands of Jesus Christ.
enHere two inquiries challenge our notice : First, what had the apostle “ committed” unto his Saviour ? Second, whence arose his assurance that it was perfectly safe in his hands ?
1. What was the deposite which Paul had committed to Jesus Christ? It was evidently something personal-something about which if his hope were deceived, he might be put to shame-something in which he peculiarly acted as a believer : What was this? What could it be but his immortal soul, his redeemed body, his whole interest in the salvation of God ? Men in health and spirits may talk, and do talk, with lightness and gayety, about their own decease, and affect to think it strange that any but a villain, should entertain the least apprehension about his appearance before God. But when age, accident, or sickness, proclaims their course to be nearly run ; and the stock of life to be almost exhausted—when the chill atmosphere of the grave smites them with the last ague ; and death's icy hand begins to lay hold upon their frame—when the world, with all its illusions, fades upon the sight, and possesses no more the power of charmingwhen ETERNITY rises in all its magnitude-displays its dread realities-draws back the curtain from the judgment-seat-announces the approach of the righteous Judge, and the necessary and speedy appearance before him-0, then, lightness and gayety flee away. They have other thoughts altogether about putting off this body. Nothing but the Christian's hope can sustain their spirits. Then there is seen an emphasis in his words of faith which was not comprehended before : his brow, glittering in the death-sweat, is encircled with a glory, which sheds infinite contempt upon the baubles of earth ; and commands them to remove with their impertinence to a respectful distance. 0, I have seen a believer preparing to resign his soul into the hands of his dear Redeemer-have seen him make a practical comment upon the declaration of Paul-have seen how infinitely trifling and foolish the world appears when she presumes to draw near him, and to open her absurd lips. The very worldling could not endure it. Then is the moment of the dying conqueror's triumph. He commends his spirit to Him that loved him, and washed him in his own blood—commits his body to the Resurrection and the Lifecommits it “in sure and certain hope” of its being raised again to eternal life : and as the breath departs from his lips, he shouts, Salvation! and is away, amidst the alleluias of angels, to the “bosom of his Father and his God.” What filled him with ecstacy at the arrival of that event which is nature's terror, and from which most of his race shrink and shudder ? It was this : “ I know whom I have believed ; and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed unto him, against that day.” And in what light, think you, does his faith contemplate the Lord Jesus, in trusting him with so precious a deposite? As a creature ? a man? mere man? “ frail and peccable ?" They who can risk themselves in such hands, may; but must sink down to hell with all the faith they have. A man! a mere man! like myself! I would not thus intrust my body, nor a single member of it, to the mightiest angel that God ever created. Oh no! no! when a Christian anticipates his departure to the eternal world, he must have other and better security. Heaven is not more distant from earth, than is the ground of his confidence from such a broken reed. And never did you hear, nor will you ever hear in future, Paul's language from the mouth of one who makes such desperate experiments with his immortality. But,
2. Whence arose the apostle's persuasion that all is safe in the hands of Jesus Christ ? He knew what the Redeemer is; what he has promised ; and what pledges he has given both of his ability and his faithfulness.
1st. Who the Redeemer is. The only begotten Son of God, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person. The Lord of the invisible world, who was dead and is alive, and lives for evermore, and has the keys of hell and death. His word equally raised the dead and paralyzed the living. He commanded the unclean spirits, and they obeyed him, with fearful deprecations of his power. He trod upon the earth as upon a province of his government. The submissive elements performed his word. He is now in heaven, at the right hand of God; angels and principalities and powers being made subject to him. He is given to be head over all things to the church, and makes all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. The light of the Divinity is in his eye ; the thunder of God's power is in his arm; and he is most worthy of all the confidence which our souls can concentrate.
2nd. Paul knew what the Redeemer has promised. Hear-I give to all my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. He that believeth on me shall never perish, but I will raise him up at the last day. Where I am, there shall also my servant be. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne. Who that shares in these exceeding great and precious promises, can dispute that Paul had the best reason in the world to believe the Amen, the faithful and true Witness ?to believe him without hesitation—to believe him with his whole heart and soul ? Where is doubting then? Who dares admit even the thought, that the Lord Jesus will break his word ? Admit for an instant the thought, that God should lie! Where is doubting then, I repeat? It is excluded.
By what law? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith.
3rd. The Lord Jesus Christ had given very sufficient pledges of his ability and faithfulness to keep what was committed to him, in what he had done for the apostle ; and in what he had done in him ; and he was multiplying the reasons of his confidence, by what he was then continuing to do for him.
1. What had Jesus Christ done for Paul ? The same that he has done for all the household of God. He became Paul's surety; obeyed perfectly the law of condemnation ; authorized him, in humble faith, to claim and to plead that obedience, in the room of his own disobedience. He clothed Paul with righteousness—the righteousness of God—the righteousness of God by faith : directing and enabling him to make it his own, and to present it as such, where it would be properly valued, and sure to be accepted-at the bar of infinite Justice. He well knew what place should be assigned to it in the justification of a sinner. He placed it between himself and the righteous God: and gloried in it accordingly, as his perfect protection against the stroke of divine justice ; as his only and his unfailing title to eternal life; as that pure gold, in which the furnace of ultimate trial should not detect a particle of dross, nor a single flaw. Not a syllable would he hear of any works but the works of Jesus Christ, to justify him before God. That I may be found in him, exclaims he, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
This, indeed, is a vital part in the justification of sinful men. Many seem to think that they have no need of any thing but pardon. How then can they be justified by a sentence according to law, which enjoins perfect obedience? How can they become entitled to eternal life, which was originally promised to such obedience? What has overturned God's constitution? What has broken the connexion, established by himself, between the condition and the reward ? Nay, that constitution stands; and sinners, if justified at all, must be justified according to its terms—by obedience, by perfect obedience—but not by such obedience, be it remembered, as you can perform. You are all as an unclean thing, and all your righteousness as filthy rags.
This renders the plan of grace so wonderful in our eyes—so infinitely worthy of the wisdom of God. The second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, has stepped into the first Adam's place, and done what he as our covenant head ought to have done ; he has fulfilled the righteousness of the law. Thence his precious name, JEHOVAH our righteousness. Of this Paul was very certain; and it was one reason of his committing his eternal interests into the hands of Jesus Christ; with the perfect assurance that they would be safe there. Do you, my dear brethren, follow so blessed an example ? Cast away, in your dealings with your Creator, “ to the moles and to the bats,” every thing, every thing that can, by any possibility of construction, be reckoned as your own righteousness. The very best of it, trusted in, is no better than a millstone about your necks; and when God arises to Judgment, will sink you in “bottomless perdition.” Lay hold of that one righteousness of Jesus Christ ; which is able to cover all who take refuge in it, from martyred Abel down to the last believer who shall cry, Lord, save me, I perish.
In the next place, Jesus Christ had paid Paul's debt. He owed nothing less than his soul to the violated law of God; and had not his Saviour interposed, the forfeit must have been exacted. But Christ became his security for the amount of that forfeit. He put his own neck under the sword of justice, and redeemed the life of the disciple by the surrender of his own; -redeemed it, without his wish or knowledge-redeemed it, while he was yet a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; that in his case, as a ringleader of rebellion; that in me first—in me as chief–Jesus Christ might show all long-suffering for a PATTERN to them who should afterwards believe on him to life everlasting. For when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Thus, as their representative, sustaining their persons, meeting all the claims which the righteousness of God preferred, answering all accusations against them, facing every adversary, did the beloved One, as their substitute, and for their benefit, lay down his most precious life, for the lives of his chosen. The temptations of the evil one, the unbelief and contradiction of sinners, the insolence of his persecutors, and all the degradations of his humbled state --the whole weight of the curse of God, which would have crushed a world, of angels—did he endure, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to
God. Then was the law magnified and made honorable; more magnified and made more honorable, than it would have been by the unsinning obedience of all the creatures to all eternity. Then he “by himself purged our sins"--then he paid the price of redemption, for "an innumerable multitude" of prisoners, whom he bought unto God by his blood;" and having achievod the glorious work, “entered into the holy place, and for ever sat down at the right hand of God, the Majesty on high. There are some who imagine, and who say, " that we know not, nor does it concern us to know, in what manner the sacrifice of Christ is connected with the forgiveness of sins.” And grieved I am to find in this number a writer who has done good service to the cause of truth, by stripping the philosophical christianity of the day of its borrowed plume, and exposing to the abhorrence of every reasonable man all the nakedness of its pretences to learning, to candor, to superior light, and all the unbounded insolence with which it treats the word of God itself. I allude to Magee on the Atonement, whose words I have quoted above. But our Lord has not left us in the dark on this point, of the justification of a sinner. We thank his blessed name, that we do know precisely, for he has explained to us, as fully as any doctrine in the whole Bible, the connexion which his sacrifice has with the remission of our sins. It is because he was made sin for us, that we are made the righteousness of God in him—because he bare our sins and carried our sorrows, that by his stripes we are healed. Had not Jesus been our representative, we should have known nothing, and could have told nothing, about the question, whether there is forgiveness with God. But because he took our place, therefore our sins are expiated. Because he bore the penalty due to us, therefore we are freely forgiven for his name sake, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. O believer, cling to this gracious connexion between Christ's suffering and your release, as to the sheet-anchor of
your salvation. This and this alone will bear you up, when earth and earthly things are sinking around you. Paul trusted mightily to it. Therefore he was persuaded that there need be no fear of any thing committed to the Redeemer's hands.
2. Consider what Jesus Christ had done in the apostle. All that he had done without, had its counterpart within his soul. He had wrought out for him an everlasting salvation, and it was necessary that he should be put in possession of it-had purchased for him a heavenly kingdom, and the next thing was to make him fit for the enjoyment of it. Briefly, he turned Paul into a new man-turned him from darkness unto light--from Satan unto Godfrom sin unto holiness-changed the relentless persecutor into the suffering lamb gave to all his affections a holy bias--to all his faculties a heavenly point-to all his pursuits a hallowed direction-filled him with love to Himself and to the souls of men ; so that he counted not his life dear unto him, that he might “ fulfil the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” This was, to Paul himself, the most stupendous miracle in his history. Could he afterwards question, whether the Lord Jesus has “ power over all fesh”—over all spirit--when he had, within his own bosom, a living demonstration, no more equivocal than the pulsations of his heart, that the word of the Lord Jesus Christ can convert the fiercest enemy into the most tender and faithful friend? And could he