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"Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him front the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places", &c. - VER. 20.

THESE words in the 20th verse are in their coherence to be considered by us two ways - according to their coherence with the words before, and the words that follow after.
In respect of their coherence with the words before, they come in by way of comparison, or analogy, or similitude, to shew that the same power that wrought in Christ, in raising him up and setting him at God's right hand, works in us believers, and is engaged to do so.
Or else, secondly, they are to be taken in and considered simply, and as spoken absolutely of Christ, as setting out his death, or resurrection and exaltation, and sitting at God's right hand.
Now, that this latter, the simple or absolute consideration of Christ, as laying forth to us these great articles of our faith concerning his resurrection and glorification, is the main scope that the Apostle here intendeth, and to represent these things to the Ephesians' eyes, and to pray they may know them, is evident by this, that when he had spoken in a few words of the parallel power in both, he hinteth that but in a word or two; but he runneth out upon the other, and spendeth, you see, four whole verses of the chapter in the enlarging himself upon the resurrection and exaltation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The comparative consideration of the same power, that that which wrought in Christ works in believers, I have despatched; but that which I am now entering upon is the simple consideration of the main grounds of faith which are to be known about Christ. These now come to be considered.
Now I have given you the coherence and scope of the words, I will give you the parts of them in general, as much as now needeth, to the end of the chapter. First, He doth run over, I say, the great articles of your faith concerning Jesus Christ. He sheweth how he was dead, - he intimateth that, - and remained in a state of death, for he was 'raised from the dead,' saith the text.
Secondly, He setteth before us his resurrection; 'whom God raised up,' saith he. Thirdly, His exaltation, the exalting of Christ, the glorifying of Christ; set forth in these words, 'and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.' So he expresseth it, first under a metaphor; he calleth it 'setting at God's right hand.' But then he explaineth himself in the 21st and 22d verses, and he sheweth how high that exaltation is; he saith it is 'far above all principalities and powers.' He sheweth both the extension of it, it is over 'all things,' all things in this world, and in the world to come; and he instanceth in the greatest things, both principalities and powers, might and dominion, He sheweth, secondly, the height of it, as the other was the breadth of it; he saith he is so far advanced that all these things are under his feet, so saith the 22d verse.
In the fourth place, As he shewed his death, and resurrection, and exaltation, so he sheweth the relation that Jesus Christ beareth to his Church: in the midst of all this exaltation, saith he, he hath all things under his feet indeed, but he is a head to his Church, that is for their comfort; and this doth Jesus Christ account as great a part of his exaltation as any other, that he is a head to his Church, for so it followeth in the last verse, 'which is his fulness;' though he be full of all this glory, he is pleased to account his relation to his Church to be his fulness, without which he is not perfect. Lastly, He telleth us the influence that Jesus Christ hath now he is in heaven; he sitteth not there as possessing glory and happiness in himself but he hath an influence into all things; 'he filleth,' saith he, 'all in all.'
So now you have the parts of the words to the end of the chapter. Before I come to handle these particulars, as I have often done, so I shall now give you one observation in general, and the observation riseth from this: both that the Apostle here runneth out so much when he had mentioned the power that wrought in Christ, he runneth out upon his resurrection, and exaltation, and sitting at God's right hand, and prayeth that they might know these things, for that is part of his scope also. Hence observe this, my brethren - That the knowledge of these common articles of our faith, - of Christ's being raised again, his sitting at God's right hand, and having all things under his feet, and the like, - that the true knowledge, the constant apprehension of these, take them in the relation that Christ hath to us as a head - take that in - is of all knowledges the most necessary, the most useful, the most comfortable ; and therefore the knowledge of this is the last of the Apostle's prayer, for all this cometh in his prayer to God for them; necessary for sealed Christians as these Ephesians were, Christians grown up, for them to spend the deepest and the dearest of their thoughts upon.
My brethren, they are common points, and you have them in your creed, and every child knoweth them, and you take them for granted; whereas if they were but digested by faith constantly and daily, if you would make constant meals of them, there are no points in religion more strong, more powerful to quicken men's hearts than these. It would never else have been, that by universal consent of the Church in all ages, these should be put as the common articles of our faith, as you know they are.
Whatever account you make of them, let me tell you this, they were the great points which took up the thoughts of the faith of the primitive Christians, - that their Christ was risen, newly ascended up to heaven, and sitting there at God's right hand. They were fresh news then, and did mightily quicken their hearts; and it was that which took up their sermons; read their sermons in the Acts, chap. v., and you shall find they insist upon these things.
When Paul came to Corinth, you shall see in 1 Cor. xv. what an emphasis he putteth upon these common points, Christ's being dead and risen again. Saith he there, 'I declare unto you the gospel which I preached,' - so it is at the first verse, - ' which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved;' and he addeth, 'if ye keep in memory,' that is, if you exercise your thoughts daily upon what I have delivered, - for it is a great point, it is not only necessary to salvation for their first believing, but for their keeping in memory, and whetting their souls upon them, - ' if ye keep in memory,' saith he, 'what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.' 'For,' saith he, - if ye would know what this gospel is which he putteth this weight upon, - ' I delivered unto you first of all that which I have received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again according to the scriptures;' and, saith he, ver. 11, 'So we preach, and so ye believed' It was the great thing in their preaching, and it was the great thing in the eye of their faith.
Read all Paul's Epistles, you shall likewise find he runneth out upon these points. Here is but a small occasion given; you see how he enlargeth himself upon it. When he cometh to speak of these points his heart swelleth and mightily riseth up, for indeed his heart was full of them.
These were the cream of notions in the primitive times, both in the sermons of the apostles, and in the daily talk and thoughts of the Christians. They were the great notions in that golden age. These made them comfortable, heavenly, spiritual Christians, to have their conversation in heaven, ready to sacrifice their lives at an hour's warning, because so the apostles preached, and so they believed, as he telleth them in that place of the Corinthians.
Other doctrines, my brethren, that are the great doctrines of this age, that you may see what children we are, the Apostle professeth that they are but the beginnings, the principles of the knowledge of Christ. Do but look into Heb. vi. 1 - 4: 'Leaving,' saith he, 'the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.' What are the principles of the doctrine of Christ? Saith he, 'Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, and of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.' These, - the laying open of faith, the works thereof, and of repentance and sanctification, the laying open of the doctrine of church government, which imposition of hands, as some think, is put for, - although they are all necessary and useful, and so likewise to terrify men's consciences, and preach hell to them, and judgment, and wrath, and the like; these, saith he, are but the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and he chideth them that they should stick at these. In chap. v. 10, 11, he speaks of Christ, that he was called of God a high priest after the order of Melchisedec; 'of whom,' saith he, 'we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of heating,' (he chideth them presently,) while ye are preaching and talking of faith, and repentance from dead works, and imposition of hands, and the like. But to lay open the great things of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, and sitting at God's right hand, - which the Apostle makes the sum of this Epistle to the Hebrews, read chap. viii. 1 ; the sum of those things that he had spoken, and to be spoken, the word in the original beareth both, is, that Christ is set down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens ; - to lay open, I say, the death and resurrection of Christ, and his sitting at God's right hand, and all the mysteries thereof, these are the great points that the Apostle would have them go on to the knowledge of; this is a going on to perfection.
Now, how contrary is the strain of Christians in this age They, on the other side, account these doctrines, because you have them in your creed, the principles of Christ, and of the doctrine of Christ, and therefore they leave them, and go to insist altogether in their thoughts, and every way, upon the other. My brethren, though those other are not to be neglected, yet these are the great things of the gospel, as our Saviour speaks in another case. And know these will be the current truths of that age that is to come, and men will rejoice in them, and the true knowledge and constant apprehension of these points will make men to live in heaven.
So much -now for the general observation. Only I will add this: The reason why men's thoughts are no more taken up with these common points about Christ, is because they do not mingle them with faith. For you must all acknowledge this for a most certain truth, that they are all the greatest things the gospel revealeth; now if they be the greatest things of the gospel, if you had faith answerable they would make your minds great, they would have a proportionable influence upon your souls, both to comfort them and to quicken them. But the error lieth in this, not that these are not the great points of religion, but because you have not faith to rise up to them, to make use of them, that is the truth of it.
My brethren, are you troubled with the guilt of sin? If you could but see by faith Jesus Christ rising from the dead, and sitting at God's right hand, and crowned with glory and honour, the guilt of sin would vanish with the real and serious thoughts of these, more than by all the assurance of your own graces. Doth the power of sin trouble you? That Jesus Christ died for sin, for this very sin that I am committing; you are now a-sinning; why, did not Jesus Christ rise again from the dead, in whom I believe to be saved? Have but faith in it, and it would presently quash the rising of a lust, and instantly fire your souls. Is Jesus Christ sitting in heaven, in glory, and am I a member of his, and hope to be with him, (or else why do I believe in him'?) what do I then sinning upon earth?
You know how the Apostle urgeth it, Col iii. 2, 'If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, and not on things on the earth.' This our hearts will do if we believe these great things. My brethren, you make conscience of sin, and you do well; but had you but faith in those great things about Christ, that faith would make more quick riddance of your sins than your consciences can do; the one would direct you what is sin and what not, but the other would strengthen you against it. If these common principles were held forth and professed, if they were lived upon by believers, you would find that the holiness of your lives would have, as in your own hearts, so in the hearts of others, more power to convince you. The believers in the primitive times, as they were holy in their lives; so they professed this still to be the foundation of their holiness: Christ is dead, Christ is risen, Christ is in heaven, therefore we must live so and so; and this was their great profession; read but the writings of those first times, and you shall find it. It dasheth all the carnal gospellers in the world; it would shame men out of their sins, or out of their professing of Christ. If Paul were alive, he would spit in any man's face that will say that he believeth in Christ that died and rose again, and yet lived in sin. I cannot demonstrate this unto you as I would. I must leave the point: so much in general.
Now, I come to the particular articles concerning Christ laid open in the text. I shall not be able to insist on the several uses the knowledge of them will be unto you, but I will open them and handle them by way of exposition; and that is all I shall do, because I must keep to the point in hand.
You have these articles of your faith concerning Christ explained from the 20th verse to the end of the chapter: - First, you have him here dead, truly dead, perfectly dead, not a spark of life left before he was to be raised; or else what need there be so great a power to work in him? 'The greatness of the power,' saith he, 'which wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.' Here is his death.
Secondly, here is his remaining in a state of death after his dying; he doth not say simply, who raised him from death, but 'raised him from the dead,' from amongst the dead amongst whom he lay. That is the second.
Thirdly, you have his resurrection, and you have two things concerning it. First, the resurrection itself; secondly, the raiser of him, God the Father 'who raised him from the dead,' saith he.
Lastly, you have his exaltation; his setting him at God's right hand, he.
This is the more general division of the 20th verse.
First, to begin with his death which is hinted here. He was dead, and truly dead. I will not speak of the kind of his death, crucifying, - it is not in the text, - but of that act of dying, that he died. To confirm which article, that the eye of our faith might be upon it, and in a special manner take notice that he was not only crucified, but dead, I will give you but a scripture or two about it, that shall shew you the necessity and the reason of it, why he died. I do not now speak of all his sufferings, why he was crucified, or why he was a man of sorrows, the manner of his death, or the kind of his death, but simply the act of dying, his giving up the ghost.
It was a prophecy in the Old Testament that the Messiah should be slain, cut off out of the land of the living, as the expression is, Isa. liii. 8, which is an apparent prophecy of his death. 'He died,' saith he, in that 1 Cor. xv. 3, 'according to the scriptures.' The Old Testament prophesied of it. It was necessary he should die. What saith Christ himself, John xii. 24? 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.' Our Saviour Christ speaketh it of himself. He compareth himself to a grain of corn that falleth from heaven; it dropped from thence, for he is called 'the Lord from heaven,' 1 Cor. xv. 47. And as the corn that falleth into the ground, if it doth not die, it remaineth alone, - that is, it remaineth fruitless, it bringeth forth nothing, - so if I would have been alone in heaven, I needed never to have died, yea, I needed never to have come from thence; but, saith he, if I will have others come up thither, look as the corn must die before such time as grain grow up out of it, so must I. And though corn indeed in dying seeth corruption, for you cannot suppose a death of a grain of corn but by corrupting; which in a way of analogy to what he meant to express about himself he calleth a dying of the grain; so as though he saw no corruption in the grave, yet die he did, and in those terms expresseth the similitude. He expresseth it, therefore, by way of such a similitude as of his death, not that he suffered corruption, but that he, as a man, had a death answerable to it; he died by breathing out his soul; and if he had not done that, he must have been in heaven alone, but having died, not a hundred-fold or a thousandfold only cometh up, but an innumerable company of believers in all ages, throughout all the world, both Jews and Gentiles.
To give you a reason or two to shew you the necessity of it - The first was to confirm the covenant of grace, and to make it of a covenant a testament, which was much for our advantage. There are two reasons; I will only mention them. In Heb. ix. 15-17, 'And for this cause,' saith he, 'he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, they that are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance'. He compareth here, you see, the covenant of grace not to a covenant simply, but to a testament, to a man's will. That word Berith, which the Hebrew useth for covenant, the Greek expositors and the Septuagint still translate it testament, and the Apostle, therefore, keepeth to their translation, and he keepeth indeed to the intent and scope of the Holy Ghost, for it was not simply a covenant God made but a testament And therefore, if you mark it, at the 18th verse he putteth Exod. xxiv., where Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, 'Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you;' now, saith the Apostle, there in the 18th verse, 'Neither was the first testament dedicated without blood;' by blood he meaneth death, for they did not only take the blood of the beasts from them by letting of them blood, but they killed them, and then took the blood and sprinkled the covenant. Now, all this was done in a type, that although it was a covenant, yet it was such a covenant as must have the death of him with whom and for whose sake the covenant was made; and so it was both a covenant and a testament.
Now, it being a testament, mark what the Apostle saith in the following verses to shew you the necessity of Christ's death. ' Where a testament is,' saith he, ' there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.' Of necessity; why? Because if it be a testament, it is never made immutable till the testator dieth, as the civil lawyers say; it is but a changeable thing till the testator is dead, but after he is dead it standeth immutable. If it had been barely a covenant, it would not have comforted us so much; but it is proved a testament now because Christ died.
You see then one reason why it was necessary Christ should die, that he might make the covenant of God a testament. And why was the covenant of God to be made a testament? I will tell you. In God's covenant with us and for our salvation, and with Christ likewise for us, there was both free grace, - in respect of free grace it is called a covenant,- and there was justice to be satisfied, and that requireth death, and in that respect it is called a testament. I make my covenant with you, saith God to Christ, but the condition is your death; but it shall not only be a covenant, but a testament; you shall die, and you shall make your will when you die, and the covenant I make with you shall be a testament to them that belong to you. Now, this testament, this will of his, would not have been in force if he had not died. The typical covenant was not ratified but by death; it was blood, not simply drawn from the beasts by blood-letting, but killing of the beasts, and then taking their blood and confirming the covenant. So the blood of Christ still noteth out his death in the Scripture, as the blood in the old testament noted out the beasts slain. He was to die to make the covenant a testament.
I should have mentioned another reason, which is in the latter end of that 9th chapter of Hebrews, ver. 27, 28; for he goeth on to speak of the death of Christ. 'As it is appointed unto all men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered' - that is, he died once, he was offered up by dying, so is the opposition, and so much the similitude implieth - ' to bear the sins of many;' and therefore, in Rom. vi. 10, we shall find that phrase is used, 'He died unto sin once.' You know the curse was, that man should die the death; 'In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die the death.' Our Saviour Christ was made the whole curse because he would redeem us from the whole curse. There was a curse went out against his soul, he paid deadly pains, as I told you out of Acts ii.; and then he cried out it was finished, when he bore the wrath of God in his soul after that. Here now was that whereby our souls were redeemed; but our bodies must be redeemed too from death; therefore after all this he must die, as it is appointed for all men once to die. Is that a law, saith he, and will Christ be a mediator? He must die too. This is the Apostle's reasoning in Heb. ix.27, 28.
Hence it was, and it is an observation worth your marking, that God, because his death, the expiring of soul from body, was the completing of that sacrifice, ordered it to be at the hour of the evening sacrifice, which was his type. The evening sacrifice was offered up at the third hour, that is at three of the clock, then did Christ breathe his soul out and offered up himself to be a sacrifice, for dying was essential to a sacrifice.
So much for the first, that he is said to be dead. I shall give you but small touches and hints.
The second thing concerning Christ, which is a great article of our faith too, is, that Jesus Christ remained in a state of death. If you mark it, he doth not say simply that he raised him up from death, but from the dead; that is, he was a companion with the dead; that is, look what estate their bodies were in, his body was in: he was free among the dead, though in another sense than Heman speaks of himself; he was in the company of the dead, he was raised from the dead.
This, my brethren, was likewise to fulfil the curse. The curse was not only that Adam should die, but he was to return to his dust, so Gen. iii. 19. And therefore, you shall find that they are made two things by the Psalmist, Ps. cxlvi. 4: speaking of man, saith he, 'his breath goeth forth,' there is the act of dying, 'and he turneth to his earth.' Every man is not buried, but the common sepulchre of all mankind is the earth, though a man lieth on the top of it; that is the common sepulchre of all mankind. Now, our Saviour Christ was in a state of death, not only dying, but he remained in a state of death. It is a strange speech in Acts xiii. 34, where, speaking of our Saviour Christ, saith he, 'He raised him from the dead, now no more to see corruption.' Here he expresseth what it is to be raised from the dead, no more to return to corruption. Why, did our Saviour Christ ever see corruption? No, the text expresseth the contrary, in the 35th verse, 'Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.' Why doth the Apostle then say, 'He raised him from the dead, no more to see corruption?'
His meaning is plainly this: though indeed his body was not corrupted, - for as his body was free from sickness while he lived, so it was free from corruption when he died, it became not his honour, it was exempted from sickness and infirmities, - yet, saith he, take that state of the dead which tendeth to corruption, and he was under it. He was raised from the dead, no more to return to corruption; not that he corrupted before, but that he remained in a state in which men's bodies use to be corrupted. Our Saviour Christ was not only to get a victory over death, but over the grave, over a state of death; now corruption is the state of death, and that the Apostle meaneth by corruption, when he saith to return no more to corruption; yet actual putrefaction, that he meaneth afterward, when he saith, 'He will not suffer his Holy One to see corruption.'
To exemplify this unto you thus: If Jesus Christ presently after he had died, if his soul had come into his body again, he had died indeed, but he had not risen from the dead; he had been quickened indeed, as the Scripture sometimes speaks, but he had not been raised from the dead; therefore that he might be raised from the dead, he must continue in a state of death. As if he had come off the cross before he had died, it might be said he had been crucified, but it could not be said that he died; so if his soul had come to him again when it went first out of his body, it might have been said he had been quickened indeed, but it could not have been said he was raised from the dead, for that implieth a lying under a state of death.
You shall find therefore that death is said to have dominion over him, as over his prisoner. It is the phrase, Rom. vi. 9, 'Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him;' which implieth that death not only killed him, but it had dominion over him, had him in his power, he was in the state of death, he was death's prisoner. You must know that death had him in his power, dominion it had a while over him; but, saith he, it was impossible that he could be holden by it. Therefore, in 1 Cor. xv. 20, he is said to be 'the first-fruits of them that sleep.' Why of them that sleep? Because he did not only die, but he slept, he took a nap, he was a while under the state of death; therefore it is said he was raised from the dead.
And herein, my brethren, lay the last of the humiliation of Christ. It lay not simply in his being buried; there was an honourableness in that, for he had an honourable funeral, he was embalmed with sweet odours and spices, which the Jews used to call a burial; not only so, but he was and continued in the state of death. Therein lieth the bottom and the last of his humiliation. It is said, in Eph. iv. 9, that he descended into the lower parts of the earth before he ascended. The lower parts of the earth is not meant his grave; for the truth is, his grave was not in the lower parts or in the bottom of the earth, for it was above the earth, it being their manner then to make their tombs in rocks; but it implieth a state of death that our Saviour Christ was in. He did return to dust, to a state of death, to his earth, which was the curse; he was a while dead, death's prisoner, death had dominion over him; therefore he is here said to be raised from the dead.
My brethren, Christ did run through all estates with us; he was not only born into the world, but he lived in it as we do; he might have been born into it and gone out again, but he lived in it three-and-thirty years. When he came to die, he might have died and taken his soul up again presently. No, but he would remain in death; look what befalleth us did befall him, setting aside what was dishonourable to his person, as corruption would have been. The same state our soul shall be after death, his soul was in; it went to Paradise, so likewise do our souls; therefore you read of Paradise as well as the third heavens, 2 Cor. xii. Look what state our bodies were in, that state was his body in too; and God did it, that, as we might see he should be conformed to us and we to him, so that we might be satisfied he was dead indeed.
So much for the second thing: he was raised from the dead; therefore as he died, so he was reserved in a state of death.
I come, in the third place, to his resurrection, for I shall run over these things more briefly. There are two things concerning it that I shall speak unto you of, for the opening of these words.
The first is the necessity of his resurrection.
The second is the author of his resurrection. The author of his resurrection is, said to be God; 'which he wrought in Christ,' saith he, 'when he raised him from the dead.' He speaks of God the Father.
First, For the necessity of Christ's resurrection. I shewed you why it was necessary for him to die; I shall shew you, in a word or two, why it was necessary for him to rise.
First, it was needful for him to rise again in respect of God. It was the title that God had in the Old Testament, that he was the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Now from thence doth our Saviour Christ, Matt. xxii. 32, prove the resurrection, and that Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, must rise again; not Abraham's soul only, but Abraham, body and soul, must live; for that makes Abraham, the body and soul together make the man. 'For God,' saith he, 'is not the God of the dead, but of the living;' therefore certainly Abraham must rise again.
Now look into the New Testament, and you have the style altered. Now it is, 'The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' So then, as from that style in the Old Testament Christ proveth that Abraham must rise; so from this style in the New Testament it was necessary that Christ should rise, for God is not a God of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ. Therefore rise he must in respect of God. Saith he, 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee:' as if he should say, I was loath to lose my Son; therefore God raised him up again, he begat him again; 'This day have I begotten thee.' It is spoken of his resurrection expressly in that Acts xiii. God had as much work for him to do after as before; he had the world to be governed by him, the Church to be saved, and the kingdom to he ruled, and then to be delivered up to God the Father. Therefore there was a necessity that Christ should rise in respect of God.
Then, secondly, in respect of Christ himself it was necessary he should rise, it was meet he should; there was a great deal of reason, that he that suffered so much for God, in obeying of him, should rise again to enjoy the fruit of it. It is the reason given Isa. liii. 11, 12, 'Because he made his soul an offering for sin,' and died so willingly, 'he shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied;' he shall live to see it. Therefore he was to rise again, that he might enjoy and possess what by his death he had purchased.
There are some of the school-men that have argued it, though it is a falsehood, that a mere creature might have satisfied the wrath of God. Take an angel filled with grace; if that angel would have lost himself, given up himself to ruin and destruction, this might have been taken as sufficient to procure the salvation of another, of a sinner. But there is this great reason why God, if it could have been done, would never have accepted it, because that pure creature could never have risen again. Why? Because though it might have satisfied, yet it must have taken an eternity of time to have done it, it must always have been a satisfying, it could never have risen to see of the travail of his soul: but Jesus Christ could despatch the work of satisfaction in a few hours, and die, and rise again, and live to see of the travail of his soul.
And, my brethren, there was no reason, - I will not say no reason in respect of him, for he may do what he pleaseth, - but there was no reason he should be beholden to any creature so much as to put him to the highest, the greatest self-denial, of dying and being accursed, and not rewarded; therefore, that he might be rewarded, he rose again. And therefore you read in Acts ii. 24, which indeed is another reason, 'lt was impossible for him to be holden of death.' Impossible, not only in respect of his power, that he was able to raise himself, but impossible according to justice. For when he had paid the sorrows of death, as there he speaks of it, death could not hold him; the law of God, the justice of God said, Deliver the prisoner, for he had satisfied; there was an impossibility but that he must rise again in that respect.
Next, he did rise that he might be Lord of all, and it was fit it should be so. You shall find in Rom. xiv. 9, 'To this end,' saith he, 'Christ both died, and rose again, and revived,' - that is, had a new life, for his life in heaven is another kind of life than what he had here below, - ' that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.' He died to purchase a lordship, he rose again to possess it, and it was fit that he that purchased it should possess it.
Last of all, it was exceeding necessary for us poor souls and creatures. I will give you but one scripture for it, for I must not stand upon these things. In Acts xiii., where the Apostle preacheth the resurrection to the Jews, do but mark how he terms it; 'We declare unto you,' so it is in ver. 32, 'glad tidings.' That which we are preaching, saith he, is good news for you, it is glad tidings. What is that? 'How that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again.' Here is the glad tidings; it was good for us that Christ rose again. And then he quoteth a proof for it out of the second Psalm, 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' And in ver. 34, mark that likewise, 'As concerning that he raised him from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.' He proveth the resurrection out of these words, 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.' One would wonder how that this should prove the resurrection; but he doth not only go about to prove the resurrection, but to shew them that it was glad tidings to them; he saith, that if Christ had not risen again you had never had the sure mercies of David. So that now, by the resurrection of Christ, all the sure mercies of David are confirmed unto us. In Ps. lxxxix. 1 - 3, to open this place a little, and so pass from the point, saith he, 'I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever;' so beginneth the first verse. 'For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.' How is this proved? Wherein lieth this mercy? 'I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations.' Here now is the sure mercies of David, that God meant to raise up Jesus Christ, and to set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, and so convey all mercies to us his seed and children. Read now but Acts ii. 30; saith he, 'David being a prophet, and knowing God had sworn with an oath that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ.' Compare these three places one with another, and you see how they prove the resurrection. That which I observe out of them is this : that he rose to convey to us the sure mercies of David, to execute and apply all mercies to us, which had been nothing worth if Christ had not risen. I will give you but one place more for that, that you may see it was good news for us that Christ rose; it is a parallel place to the other three. It is Acts iii. 25; saith he, 'Ye,' meaning the Jews, 'are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers; unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you.' Mark, his resurrection was to bless you. Hence now we tell you good tidings, saith he; Jesus Christ is risen from the dead; for saith he, 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.' You could never have had your sins pardoned, if Christ had not risen. 'If Christ be not risen, you are yet in your sins;' it is his expression, 1 Cor. xv. 17. -
My brethren, if Christ had not risen, we had not risen. In the same 1 Cor. xv., 'in Christ all rise.' Now Jesus Christ is risen, how doth the Apostle teach you to argue? I will only quote that place in Rom. vi. 9, 11, and will end with it; 'Knowing,' saith he, 'that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Is Christ, saith he, risen; then consider with yourselves, have you faith in you? hath that power begun to work in you? Then, saith he, look as death had no more dominion over Christ, you may as soon have Christ pulled out of heaven and nailed again to the cross, as that death shall ever have dominion over you. And is not this good news, my brethren? We bring you glad tidings, saith he, that God hath fulfilled the promise made unto the fathers; he hath raised up Christ from the dead; and, saith he, by this he bestoweth upon us the sure mercies of David; for he riseth for our sanctification, he dieth for our justification, he riseth for our resurrection, and as he rose we shall rise again. Reckon not yourselves dead, but alive unto God; as death had no more dominion over him, so shall it not have dominion over you. So that, my brethren, there is no point of greater use than this, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. You shall find in Scripture that it is made the great object of our faith; as, Rom. x. 9, 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth, and believe in thine heart, that God hath raised up Christ from the dead, thou shalt be saved.' I shall have occasion to shew you the reason of it by and by.
And so much now for the resurrection itself, the necessity of it, and the end of it; which I have done most briefly.
Secondly, consider the raiser of him, that is the next thing; the raiser of him is said to be God the Father. You shall find that this work of raising up Christ from the dead is accounted so great a work that you have it still attributed to God. It is his name that he is the Father of Christ, as you heard before, and it is a name that by way of periphrasis is used for God; when he speaks of God, he putteth this in still, that 'he raised up Christ from the dead.' You have it in four places of Scripture: Rout. iv. 24, viii. 11, Col. ii. 12, 13.
There is only this one difficulty to be explained here: how the Father is said to be the raiser up of Christ, when yet the Scripture telleth us that Christ raised up himself; that is, the second Person, united to that soul and body, brought them both together again and quickened it. That Christ raised up himself, you have express Scripture for it: John ii. 19, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' He spake of the temple of his body. John x. 17, 18, 'I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again.'
And the truth is, my brethren, it was necessary that he that was your Mediator should be able to raise up himself. Why? Because in the works of mediation, whereof this was one, he was to borrow nothing, it must all be his own. If he had borrowed anything, mark what I say, it had not been a Mediator's work, for he had been beholden to God. If there had not been some sense wherein what he did, and what he was, had been his own so as not his Father's, all his works had not been works of mediation; his satisfaction had not. If in dying he had not offered up himself if by his own power he had not overcome those sorrows of death, he had not satisfied. Why? For if it had been a borrowed power, then all the satisfaction he offered had been God's already; he could not have paid, for no man could pay one with what is not his own: so when he came to rise again, if he had not raised himself by his own power, it had not been a Mediator's action.
Now, brethren, how then is it that here it is said God raised him up from the dead, whenas he raised up himself; and it was necessary that he should do so, if he be Mediator? That wicked heretic, Socinius, denieth that Christ did raise himself from the dead, because he knew that this would pinch him, that therefore he must be God; for to raise one from the dead is made a work of omnipotency, as Rom. iv. 17, 'He believed on him, even on God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.' It is the property of God to quicken the dead, even as much as to create; therefore, to avoid this (he denieth that he is God) he goeth against express Scripture, and denieth that Christ raised himself and he hath cunning evasions for it; but I will not stand upon it.
But to answer this, and to reconcile it, how both the Father is said to raise Christ, and Christ is said to raise himself, I will give you these three several answers to reconcile it
First, you must know that all the works of the Three Persons, what one doth the other two are said to do. It is a certain rule, that all their works to us-ward, of creation and redemption, and whatsoever else, are all works of each Person concurring to them. As they have but one being, one essence, so they have but one work; yet as they have three several subsistences, so they have three several manners of working. Hence now the Father is said to raise Christ, so it is here; so likewise Christ is said to raise himself, as you have it in the place I quoted even now; and, thirdly, you have as express a place of Scripture that the Holy Ghost raised him too: Rom. viii. 11, 'If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you.' He speaks of the Holy Ghost, and he saith this Spirit raised up Christ from the dead:
Now therefore these two may very well stand together - that both God the Father raised him up, and he raised up himself; for all Three Persons concur in every work. The Father is said to create, the Son is said to create, and the Holy Ghost is said to create. And so likewise, the Father is said to raise him, the Son is said to raise himself, and the Holy Ghost to raise him too. To give you a scripture punctual to the point in hand, the matter of the resurrection, that both Father and Son do jointly concur in it: John v. 19, 20, 'The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doth, these also doth the Son likewise.' The Son doth the same things the Father doth; if the Father raiseth him, the Son raiseth himself. And mark what followeth at the 21st verse, 'For as the Father raiseth up the dead,' - there is an instance, - ' and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.' If the Father and the Son both concur to the quickening of them, then certainly Father and Son concur to the quickening and raising up of the human nature; therefore, 1 Cor. xv. 45, he is called a quickening spirit. 'The first Adam,' saith he, 'was made a living soul, the second a quickening spirit.' The Godhead that is meant by spirit did quicken him, quicken him when he was dead, and raised him up.
And, my brethren, let me only give you this consideration about it: it is not in this raising of Christ as it is in our conversion, therein there is a difference. You see in raising up of Christ, that Christ himself, namely the Son of God, and the Father did in a joint manner concur to it; indeed the body concurred nothing to it, for that was dead, but the Son of God, the second Person, concurred and raised up that body and soul. But so it is not in our conversion; our wills and God's power are not joint workers together; though he paralleleth them in respect of power, yet in this point they are not alike.
In the second place, although God the Father did raise up Jesus Christ, yet Jesus Christ as God-man did that by virtue of which he was raised up, and therefore may be said to raise up himself; though the power was the Father's, yet he did that which merited, as I may so say, which purchased that power to raise him up again. Look Heb. xiii. 20, 'Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ.' Here you see that God is said to do it; and he useth a fit phrase, he calleth it 'bringing him again from the dead,' for he calleth him' that great shepherd of the sheep.' The phrase whereby his death is expressed in Isa. liii. is, that he was 'led as a sheep to the slaughter;' he was led to death, therefore how fitly doth he use a phrase when he speaks of him as the shepherd of the sheep when he was brought again from the dead. 'Brought again' is au allusion to the phrase used in the prophet, 'led away.' Here is God the Father's work. What followeth? 'Through the blood of the everlasting covenant.' Here is Jesus Christ's work for his own resurrection; he had his hand in it, that it was by blood, his own blood, by virtue of which it was done. God bad made a covenant with him: if he would shed his blood he would raise him ; therefore now as he is raised by God, so he is said to be raised by his own blood, he was raised by the 'blood of the covenant.' So that Jesus Christ himself had a hand in it in this respect also, as well as the Father. And though I know divines say he merited nothing for himself, because all was his due as he was the Son of God, and it is a truth; but I cannot see but he might have a double title to glory, and resurrection, and all, and might purchase it and merit it; it was by the blood of the everlasting covenant. So in Zech. ix. 11, it is said, he will 'deliver the prisoners out of the pit by the blood of the covenant.' Look by what power he doth deliver poor souls out of distress, deliver captives out of the pit; by the same blood of the covenant doth he deliver Christ himself, brought again from the grave, from the pit, from the dust, 'that great shepherd of the sheep.'
Then again, for a third answer; go, take several considerations about Christ, and in one consideration God the Father is said to raise him, but in others he raiseth himself. Consider him - I remember it is Camero's answer - as a Common Person, as the first-fruits of a company of members that are raised with him as a common Head; and so God the Father is said to raise him, saith he, and we are raised in him by God the Father. But then consider him as a Mediator, in respect of satisfaction to be performed, and to do the work of a Mediator himself; whereof resurrection is one; so, saith he, he overcometh death by his own power, he broke open the gates of death and hell, he hath the keys at his girdle, and he shewed that he had the power of death. Here are now two considerations wherein Jesus Christ is said to be raised up by God the Father, and by himself. And then, thirdly, here is another: take Jesus Christ as he is to be a satisfier for sin, to perform the work of mediation, so he raiseth himself; but take him as he is to be rewarded for all the services he had done, as it is fit he should be, and the rewarder is God, for to him he did the service; now, saith God, you have done your work I will raise you up; so he concurreth in his resurrection as a rewarder of him. 'And him,' saith be, 'hath God raised up.'
I will add but these considerations about it to quicken your faith, and so make an end instantly.
It is a matter of great comfort to us, first, that Christ raised himself, for it is a sign that lie hath satisfied God; for otherwise death would have held him: if he had not loosed the pains of death, those deadly pains, if he had not fully paid a price, it had been possible for death to have held him; but having paid them it was not possible that he should be held by them. 'He rose again,' saith he, 'for our justification;' it is good for us that Christ raised himself. Herein doth our Prophet excel that cursed prophet of the Turks, Mahomet, whom they would have to be their great prophet. He promised them to rise again a thousand years after his death, and in our age, in these times wherein we have lived, have those thousand years been expired, and now they have no way to solve the matter, but that when he was dying, his voice being weak and faint, they mistook him, and that he said two thousand years, when they thought he had said one thousand. But we have no such prophet as this. Our Saviour Christ, because he would shew himself to be the Son of God, appointed to rise again three days after, and he kept his word. 'This Jesus,' saith he, Acts ii. 32, 'hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.' He rose again for our justification. Here is the great Prophet that was to come into the world.
In the second place, it is great comfort to us that God raised him up from the dead. You shall find it to be one of the names of God, that he is said to be God that raised up Christ from the dead. And you shall find it to be the great object of our faith, 1 Peter i. 21, 'Who,' saith he, speaking of believers, 'do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.' Observe these words. The object of your faith is, that God hath raised up Christ from the dead and given him glory, and he addeth that this was done for that end, that you might have faith and hope in God. You could never have looked up to God with comfort, if you had not looked upon him as God that raised up Christ from the dead, for thereby we know now that God is well pleased with Christ, is satisfied, for he hath raised him up again; therefore your faith may be in God that he accepteth Christ's satisfaction for sinners, so to believe on him to be justified by it; and in that he raised him from the dead and gave him glory, your hope may be in God for the time to come that he will give you glory too. Hath he raised up Jesus Christ? He will raise up you also. He makes Jesus Christ a pattern, as here indeed in this very verse the Apostle doth, of what God will do to us; 'which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.' Did he raise up Christ? He will justify thee, which is a resurrection, as you heard. Did he raise up Christ? He will sanctify thee, which is an attaining unto the resurrection from the dead. Did he raise up Christ? He will raise up thy dead body out of the grave, he will glorify it. We believe on that God with a great deal of comfort that raised up Jesus Cbrist and gave him glory, now we come to have hope that we shall have the like.
I have often wondered what should be the meaning of that place, Rom iv. 19, - let me open it unto you a little, - where he speaks of justifying faith, faith that layeth hold on Christ for justification; and he instanceth in Abraham's faith. 'Abraham believed,' saith he, 'and it was counted unto him for righteousness;' and he was your father. Now what was it that Abraham believed? Saith he, 'Not being weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, nor the deadness of Sarah's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform.' The Apostle here speaks only of faith in the power of God to give him a son, to give him Isaac. What was this to justifying faith? For I count that to be faith justifying that hath justification for its object, and the fruit whereby Abraham was justified we are justified; and certainly it must be so, or else the Apostle proveth nothing in bringing the instance of Abraham's faith that we must have the like. But if you observe the coherence of one thing with another, you shall see this doubt is taken off and that the faith here spoken of is plainly faith laying hold upon justification, and doth, according to the pattern off Abraham's faith, require the like of us.
Read, first, the 17th verse. The text saith that Abraham was 'the father of us all, (as it is written,' saith he, speaking of the promise of Isaac, 'I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.' Abraham saw the resurrection of Christ in two things. He saw it first in the birth of Isaac; for though Sarah's womb was dead, and his own body was dead, yet he believed that God would raise up Isaac, a type of Christ, out of this dead body, out of Sarah's womb. Here was one quickening of the dead. Abraham had a promise that of this very Isaac the Messiah should come. What with God to him? 'Go take thy son; saith he, 'and offer him for a burnt-offering.' Abraham made full account to do it; he had no refuge in the world but this, that God was able to raise up Isaac again; for it was as much as if God had said to him, Go kill the Messiah: for if Isaac had been killed, if Isaac should not live and get a child, and so child after child, the Messiah should not come out of the loins of Abraham, and so his faith had been void, all the promises must be let go. Now, look in Heb. xi. 17 - 19 : 'By faith; saith he, 'Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac,' - he is said to offer him up, because it was as good as done, Abraham thought it was so, - 'and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son.' Here was his faith now. If Isaac die, he must lose all the promises; yet he that received the promises, saith he, offered him up: therefore he is said to believe against hope; against hope, because the Messiah was to come out of Isaac's loins, and if Isaac did not live he was to lose his Messiah, his interest in heaven, his justification and salvation and all. Here is his trial now.
Read on, ver. 18, 'For in Isaac shall thy seed be called.' It is not only Abraham's seed, but it is the seed of Isaac; therefore Isaac must live, I am gone else, I must never look for salvation else. In this strait what doth Abraham do? Ver. 19, 'Accounting that God was able to raise him up from the dead.' Here was all his refuge. And when God did bid him spare Isaac, he looked upon this as a type of the resurrection of the Messiah, so saith the next words; 'from whence also he received him in a figure,' in a type. A type of what? Of the Messiah to come out of his loins.
So then, when Abraham first believed the promise, the begetting of Isaac was a resurrection from the dead; when he offered him up it was the death of the Messiah to him, for Isaac was the figure of the Messiah; he was a figure of him in his resurrection, therefore in his death. Now then, when God did give him Isaac again, saith he, even thus shall that seed promised be put to death and rise again; and this faith was counted to Abraham for righteousness. This was faith, believing in a figure upon God that raised up Christ from the dead, for Isaac was in this a type of Christ, and Abraham saw Christ's day in this.
That this is the scope of the Apostle in that Rom. iv., being thus compared with Heb. xi., appeareth by this: saith he, ver. 22, therefore this faith was 'imputed to him for righteousness.' Here is justifying faith. 'Now,' saith he, 'it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed unto him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed,' - like as it was to Abraham, - ' if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.' Here is your object of faith that justifieth; this was Abraham's faith in a figure, and this is a believer's faith, to believe on him that raised up Christ from the dead. Why? To be justified by him, 'who was delivered,' saith he, 'for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.'
You see, then, my brethren, that the faith of your father Abraham was a believing in God that raised up the Messiah from the dead for his justification. Herein now lieth your faith, to see Jesus Christ in his resurrection for your justification. And then, lastly, if the Holy Ghost raiseth up Christ, then, - in a word, if this Holy Ghost dwell in you, - he will raise up your hearts also, he will raise up your bodies. That you have, Rom. viii. 11, with which I will end: 'If, saith he, '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 that dwelleth in you.' The same Spirit that dwelt in Christ and raised up him, the same Spirit shall raise up your mortal bodies.
So now I have opened these three things
1. The death of Christ.
2. His remaining in a state of death.
3. His resurrection; and the necessity of all these, and how God the Father raised him up, and how he raised up himself; and some observations and uses from all.
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