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life, a temporal life ; but his life after his resurrection was an eternal life : Rom. vi. 9. “ Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more: Death hath no more dominion
Rev. 1. 18.6 I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive forevermore, Amen."........But he was put in possession of this eternal life, as the head of the body ; and took possession of it, not only to enjoy himself, bat to bestow on all who believe in him : So that the whole church, as it were, rises in him. And now he who lately suffered so much, after this is to suffer no more for ever, but to enter into eternal glory. God the Father neither expects nor desires any more suffering.
This resurrection of Christ is the most joyful event that ever came to pass ; because hereby Christ rested from the great and difficult work of purchasing redemprion, and received God's testimony, that it was finished. The death of Christ was the greatest and most wonderful event that ever came to pass ; but that has a great deal in it that is sorrowful. But by the resurrection of Christ, that sorrow is turned into joy. The head of the whole church, in that great event enters on the possession of eternal life ; and the whole church is, as it were, begotten again to a lively hope," 1 Pet. i. 3. Weep. ing had continued for a night, but now joy cometh in the morning, the most joyful morning that ever was. This is the day of the reigning of the head of the church, and all the church reigns with him. This is spoken of as a day which was worthy to be commemorated with the greatest joy of all days : Psal. cxviii. 24. “ This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. And therefore this above all other days, is appointed for the day of the church's spiritual rejoicing to the end of the world, to be weekly sanctified, as their day of holy rest and joy, that the church therein may rest and rejoice with her head. And as the 3d chapter of Genesis is the most sorrowful chapter in the Bible ; so those chapters in the evangelists, that give an account of the resurrection of Christ, may be looked upon as the most joyful chapters in all the Bible : For those chapters give an account of the finishing of the purchase of redemption, and the begin
ning of the glory of the head of the church, as the greatest seal and earnest of the eternal glory of all the rest.
It is further to be observed, that the day of the gospel most properly begins with the resurrection of Christ. Till Christ rose from the dead, the Old Testament dispensation remained: But now it ceases, all being fulfilled that was shadowed forth in the typical ordinances of that dispensation : So that here most properly is the end of the Old Testament night, and Christ rising from the grave with joy and glory, was as the joyful bridegroom of the church, as a glorious conqueror, to subdue their enemies under their feet; or was like the sun, rising, as it were from under the earth, after a long night of darkness, and coming forth as a bridegroom, prepared as a strong man to run his race, appearing in joyful light to enlighten the world. Now that joyful and excellent dispensation begins, that glorious dispensation, of which the prophets prophesied so much ; now the gospel sun is risen in glory, " and with healing in his wings,” that those who fear God's name, may “ go forth and grow up as calves of the stall."!
II. Christ's ascension into heaven. In this I would include his sitting at the right hand of God. For Christ's ascension, and sitting at the right hand of God, can scarcely be looked upon as two distinct things : For Christ's ascension was nothing else, but ascending to God's right hand; it was his coming to sit down at his Father's right hand in glory. This was another thing whereby Christ was put into a capacity for the accomplishing the effect of his purchase ; as one that comes to be a deliverer of a people as their king, in order to it, and that he may be under the best capacity for it, is first installed in his throne. We are told that Christ was exalted for this end, that he might accomplish the success of his redemption : Acts v. 31.“ Him hath God exalted with his right hand, for to give repentance unto Israel, and the remission of sins."
Christ's ascension into heaven was, as it were, his solemn enthronization, whereby the Father did set him upon the throne, and invest him with the glory of his kingdom which he had purchased for himself, that he might thereby obtain the success of his redemption in conquering all his enemies : Psal. cx. 1. « Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Christ entered into heaven, in order to obtain the success of his purchase, as the high priest of old, after he had offered sacrifice, entered into the holy of holies with the blood of the sacrifice, in order to obtain the success of the sacrifice which he had offered. See Heb. ix. 12. He entered into heaven, there to make intercession for his pecple, to plead the sacrifice which he had made in order to the sucess of it, Heb. vii. 25.
And as he ascended into heaven, God the Father did in a visible manner set him on the throne as king of the universe. He then put the angels all under him, and subjected heaven and earth under him, that he might govern them for the good of the people for whom he had died, Eph. i. 20, 21, 22.
And as Christ rose from the dead, so he ascended into heaven as the head of the body and forerunner of all the church and so they, as it were ascend with him, as well as rise with him : So that we are both raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ, Eph. ii. 6.
The day of Christ's ascension into heaven was doubtless a joyful, glorious day in heaven. And as heaven received Christ, God man, as its king, so doubtless it received a great accession of glory and happiness, far beyond what it had be. fore. So that the times in both parts of the church, both that part which is in heaven, and also that which is on earth, are become more glorious since Christ's humiliation than before.
So much for those things whereby Christ was put into the best capacity for obtaining the success of redemption.
I NOW proceed to show how he accomplished this suc.
And here I would observe, that this success consists in two things, viz. either in Grace, or in Glory. That success which consists in the former, is to be seen in those works of God which are wrought during those ages of the church wherein the church is continued under the outward means of Grace. That success which consists in the latter of these, viz. Glory, has its chief accomplishment at the day of judg. ment.
I WOULD first consider the former kind of success, consisting in God's grace here ; which mainly appears in the works of God during the time that the Christian church continues ander the means of grace ; which is from Christ's resurrection to his appearing in the clouds of heaven to judgment; which includes the three former of those great events. of providence before mentioned, which are called Christ's coming in his kingdom. In speaking of this success, I would,
1. Mention those things by which the means of this success were established after Christ's resurrection ; and,
2. Consider the success itself.
SI. I would consider those dispensations of providence, by which the means of this success were established after Christ's resurrection.
I. The abolishing of the Jewish dispensation. This indeed was gradually done, but it began from the time of Christ's resurrection, in which the abolition of it is founded. This was the first thing done towards bringing the former state of the world to an end. This is to be looked upon as the great means of the success of Christ's redemption. For the Jewish dispensation was not fitted for more than one nation : It was not fitted for the practice of the world in general, or for a church of God dwelling in all parts of the world : Nor would it have been in any wise practicable by them : It would have been impossible for men, living in all parts of the world to go to Jerusalem three times a year, as was prescribed in that constitution. When therefore God had a design of enlarging his church, as he did after Christ's resurrection, it was
necessary that this dispensation should be abolished. If it had been continued, it would have been a great block and hinderance to the enlargement of the church. And besides, their ceremonial law, by reason of its burdensomeness, and great peculiarity of some of its rites, was, as it were, a wall of partition, and was the ground of enmity between the Jews and Gentiles, and would have kept the Gentiles from complying with the true religion. This wall therefore was broken down to make
for the more extensive success of the gospel; as Eph. ii. 14, 15.
II. The next thing in order of time seems to be the appointment of the Christian sabbath. For though this was gradually established in the Christian church, yet those things by which the revelation of God's mind and will was made, began on the day of Christ's resurrection, by his appearing then to his disciples, John xx. 19; and was afterwards confirmed by his appearing from time to time on that day rather than any other, John xx. 26, and by his sending down the Holy Spirit so remarkably on that day, Acts ïi. 1, and afterwards in directing that public assemblies and the public worship of Christians should be on that day, which may be concluded from Acts xx. 7. I Cor. xvi. 1,2, and Rev. i. 10. And so the day of the week on which Christ rose from the dead, that joyful day, is appointed to be the day of the church's holy rejoicing to the end of the world, and the day of their stated public worship. And this is a very great and principal means of the success which the gospel has had in the world.
III. The next thing was Christ's appointment of the gospel ministry, and commissionating and sending forth his apostles to teach and baptize all nations. Of these things we have an account in Matth. xxviii. 19, 20. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”. There were three things done by this one instruction and commission of Christ to his apostles, viz.