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corruption shall put on incorruption, and mortal put on immortality-Oh, there never would be philosophy which could master this: it was above it, it was beyond it: and while familiarity with the truth takes off something of the strangeness of the marvel; yet I pray you to remember, when you see a grave prepared, and the coffin lowered, and the tears of the mourners almost dried up by the brilliant thought that the body of the brother or sister which they thus commit to so cold a custody shall not only moulder or waste away, but shall stir at length in its narrow home, and throw off, as with a giant's strength, the pondrous burthen of the sepulchre and come forth with that body glorified and pnrified which is now encompassed with all the dishonours of death-when, I say, you behold a spectacle like this, a spectacle which would be deemed a most unaccountable prodigy if it were not of common occurrence
-Oh, it is the soul's loftiests triumph-a triumph over the wreck of all that is material and sensible-a triumph over bone, and flesh, and sinew, dislocated, and decomposed, and shattered ;—then I pray you to give the honour alone where the honour is due, to ascribe the victory to the true and actual conqueror, and to remember that the gospel of Christ is the gospel of the resurrection; and that uutil the Redeemer appropriated the characted to himself there was never a being who could have dreampt in the widest dreams of enthusiasm of uttering such words as these_“I am the resurrectiou and the life.”
By stating the fact, that life and immorality have been brought to light by the gospel, to which I suppose St. Paul to allude when he speaks of Christ Jesus as “raised from the dead according to my gospel”—I suppose him designing to remind his son Timothy, not so much of the simple truth of the Saviour's resurrection, as of the colouring and character which this event gave to the whole system of Christianity: and however meagre might sound the bare mention of Christ's emancipation from the power of the tomb, yet when we have reason to remember that this truth interweaves itself with every part of our religion that the whole fabric of our faith is virrually based upou it—that independent of this, whatsoever there be of promise loses all its attractiveness, whatsoever there be of precept loses all its impressiveness—there is no longer any thing unnecssary in the apostolic message, though one scarcely inferior to the Apostle to the party addressed. Hence the surprise we might have felt at St. Paul's writings to Timothy, “Remember that Christ Jesus was raised from the dead," vanished utterly, and is lost, when we find him adopting such terms as these—“Remember that Christ Jesus, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my Gospel.” The latter clause. may in fact, be said to identify the gospel with the resurrection : and certainly I am prepared to argue that the more you regard the gospel of Christ as the gospel of the Resurrection, the more you will under
stand the gosple, and the more you will be consoled by the gospel. Is not the resurrection mixed up with the earliest elements of the gosple? It is not said that “ we are buried with Christ that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life?" Is not that power whereby sinners are converted, and through which they are held up and established, literally defined as the resurrection power? For does not St. Paul pray on behalf of his Ephesian converts, “ that they may know the exceeding greatness of God's power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead ?" And is it not, moreover, the Christian's hope -nay, even the Christian's title to future blessedness, so completely the result of the resurrection, that the resurrection may be represented as the acting and generating principle? For what else can Peter denote when he speaks of God as having “ begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away?" I ask you, whether it be undeniable that the Redeemer's resurreetion enters most intimately into every part of the system of salvation ; and whether it be an unmeaning message which enjoins the remembrance that “ Jesus Christ has risen from the dead according to my gospel ?” Is it not, rather, a compendious memento of all that is contained in the gospel? And if a man, by remembering the resurrection, remembers that it is “according to the gospel”—that it, in fact, accords with the gospel-so that it unites itself, blends itself, compounds itself, with every iota of gospel truth, then the gospel will always bear to him the richest aspect of which it is capable; and he will look forward to the resurrection as the full consummation of the saint's blessedness, and his thoughts will rest on the new heavens and the new earth springing, by a glorious resurrection, from the ruins of the old.
If St. Paul was desirous of winning Christians from the earth, by what motive did he stimulate them? By the resurrection. “ If he then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.” If this apostle studied to animate himself by spreading before his view some sparkling object of pursuit, whither turns he for such object? To the resurrection. “ If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." If the Saviour exhibits the privileges of those who by faith are incorporated into his mystic body, whence does he derive his terms and expressions? From the resurrection. “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." Who, after the introduction of such particulars as these, can fail to join in the desire which St. Paul has expressed on his own bchalf, “ that I may know Christ, and the power of his resurrection :” and who,
when he finds the character of that knowledge after which the apostle most ardently strove, can marvel that he should charge his own son in the faith, to live in memory of the truth, that according to the gospel which had been preached to him, Christ Jesus, of the seed of David, had been raised ? . - I leave to you to collect the several particulars of our discourse, and joining together our observations on these two clauses, “ of the seed of David,” and “ according to my gospel,” decide whether they give not a beauty and emphasis to St. Paul's message to Timothy, which warrant their being called the very nerves and sinews of the passage. Oh! it is much to think of Jesus Christ as rising from the dead, and thereby vindicating to himself all that magnificent empire which scripture promises to the seed of David, And it is much, moreover, to consider ourselves interested in the declaration of the Apostle, which proclaims the final overthrow of death, which so interweaves its every portion with the glowing prospects of a restored and renovated creation, that it may be said to utter constantly such language as this of the prophet—" I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: 0, death, I will be thy plague; O, grave, I will be thy destruction.” Yes, truly, all this is much; and it is no idle thing that we be bidden to try to bear it in memory.
I trust not myself to speak on a topic which may almost be said to have split the Christian world into factions-I mean the doctrine of the first and second resurrections—whether or no the buried saints of the Most High shall be personally and corporeally present, when the heir of David's line ascends that throne which we can now only know from the gorgeous spectacle of prophetic architecture; yet we nothing doubt that they shall be delightfully conscious of all that is passing in this regenerated universe—that if they tread not the scene of their former pilgrimage, and revisit not the home of their former mortality, purified from the corruption with which sin hath stained God's workmanship, still they shall bend down from those abodes of peace, in which they await the body's resurrection, and contemplate with unspeakable gladness the fresh and fair face of this earth's new scenery, when it shall have been transformed into a radiant theatre for the display of the Mediator's triumphs. In this hope we repose ourselves. If indeed, as the Apostle expresses it, we are children of the resurrection, then may we believe that, in all which is yet to arrive of illustrious allotment to the church, we, too, in one way or other, shall obtain a share. And, even of the body still slumber, awaiting the trumpet summons of judgment, yet shall the spirit scan and survey and rejoice in the establishment of Messiah's sovereignty over the wide-spread tribes of the human population.
Brethren, remember that Christ Jesus, of the seed of David, has been raised from the dead. Remember that your own interests in that sublime event can be demonstrated by no other proof than that of a present resurrection from the death of sin, and a vigorous walking in newness of life. There must be, at all events, this first resurrection, whatever the disputes, whatever the decision with regard to any other. If, through grace, we are partakers hereof, we may, without too curiously prying into things on which scripture speaks most obscurely and enigmatically, leave ourselves in the keeping of a covenant Father, assured that when Christ shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
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A Sermon DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. STRATTON, AT PADDINGTON
CHAPEL. 55th PSALM and 6th verse." And I said, Oh, that I had wings
like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest !” How vain and contradictory are the feelings of the human mind! at one period our prospects are like a cloud, and then again, shortly after, joy shines upon us like the sun! There is a summer and a winter, a day and a night, a seed time and a harvest time, in our experience, as well as in nature! And the seasons, through all generations, have exemplified this, and they stand before us in Holy Scripture for our admonition and encouragement. Take David for an example :it was a joyful morning when he looked upon the sanctuary, and said, “ One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple;" and it was not long after this, when, looking round on his palace and on his family with the overflowings of a grateful heart, he asks, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits; I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” But, ere long, a tempest had arisen, and a cloud had overshaded him, and he was inwardly moved at the visitations of God's providence, and he utters this pathetic exclamation :" Oh, that I had wings like a dove, for then would i flee away, and be at rest!”—so feeble a creature, you see, is man! Happy is it for us that there is One Being in the universe, of whom it may be asserted with truth, that there is no variableness, nor even the shadow of turning, with Him." But the exclamation of the text has often been uttered on wrong occasions, and in the little disappointments and fluctuations of life; in circumstances totally insignificant, many a peevish (shall I say Christian?) yes! many a peevish Christian has exclaimed, “Oh! that I had wings like a dove,"—when, if these wings had been given them, instead, perhaps, of realizing the
wished-for enjoyment, they would have sunk down into worse despondency than before; and yet there are periods and seasons in which these feelings may be excited, and it will be my object to point out, in the
Ist place. The situation that is supposed;
First, we notice the situation that is supposed when the Psalmist wishes that he had the wings of a dove!” A man surrounded by the troubles of life, I mean those cares and perplexities which press down upon the shoulders of some habitually, but upon the shoulders of all at times. One man is cast down and depressed by the embarrassments of business--another with his familyanother is moved at the unexpected changes that are taking place in the world, so that darkness beclouds his path, and he knows not in what direction to move; and there are instances in which the feelings are more particularly alive to circumstances of this order, and in the perplexity of them, they know not which way to turn or where to look for encouragement:the spirit, therefore, in this state of things is ready to exclaim, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove, then would I flee away, and be at rest !” and believe me, there may be embarrassments, even of this description, where you and I may least expect to find them. I have known some families which, at a distant view, seemed to be happiness itself, and I have fancied that a little Eden was enjoyed in their habitation on earth, but upon a nearer view it has proved the truth of that scriptural sentiment, “ Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward,”— and the same thing will apply to individuals! We have known persons whose cup of blessedness seemed to be full and overflowing, and we imagined they possessed all that earth could wish, and when we have conversed with them particularly, we have found there was a thorn in the bosom which we did not see before, and they were ready, perhaps, to exclaim, in the language of our text, “ Oh, that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away, and be at rest!”
This desire may sometimes arise from a pious motive, as well as from the peevishness and fretfulness I have been describing. Who does not remember that the Saviour warns us against the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, as being snares of the grand enemy of souls; and in that state which I am supposing, it often happens that communion with God is, in some degree, suspended! there is a want of that liveliness and vigour in the duties of religion which had once been possessed; and the individual, sensible of the feebleness of his devotion, has said, “ Oh, that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest!” Let me put a second case, and that is the treachery of praise. We cannot live without friendship, at least, I pity the man who can;