« AnteriorContinuar »
union with Him by faith, that we may be participants in His death, burial, and resurrection. If on the contrary we have the witness in ourselves that Christ hath died, been buried, and is risen again, let us study our inestimable privileges consequent thereon. Every fresh review of them will increase our holiness and happiness.
If to be a Christian is to be dead, buried, and risen with Christ, 0 how few real Christians are to be found! How few know any thing of “ the power of Christ's resurrection, the fellow« ship of His sufferings, and a conformity to “ His death!” Multitudes, it is to be feared, who are called, and who call themselves Christians, have only “ a name to live,” while in fact they are « dead ;” not « dead to sin," but “ dead in trespasses and sins.” “ Awake, thou “ that sleepest and arise from the dead, and " Christ shall give thee light.”
Almighty God, who through thine only begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life ; we beseech thee, that as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
T HE Christian church, from its earliest
age, * bath set apart a day for the commemoration of our Lord's resurrection from the dead, and has paid a peculiar respect and honour to it. “ Gregory Nazianzen after his “ manner stiles Easter-day the Queen of days " and the festival of festivals, which excells all « others not only human but even those which 66 are instituted to the honour of Christ, as far " as the sun goes beyond the other stars. It “ was a day of extraordinary rejoicing upon the “ account of our Lord's resurrection; being, as
Chrysostom stiles it, the desirable festival of “our salvation, the day of our Lord's resur“rection, the foundation of our peace, the oc“s casion of our reconciliation, the end of our
* There was an amicable dispute about the time of keeping Easter between Polycarp a disciple of St. John and Anicetus Bishop of Rome.
« contentions and enmity with God, the de. “ struction of death, and our victory over the “ devil. Hence in some antient writers it is “ distinguished from all other Lord's days in the “ year by the peculiar name of Dominica gaudii, “ the Lord's day of joy."*
This glorious event which is to day commemorated in the Christian church, is so well known in all its particulars that a recital of them is needless. The circumstances of our adored Saviour's triumph over sin and death and hell are detailed in the course of our service, and therefore instead of repeating them we shall employ our time to a greater advantage byendeavouring to improve the history.
Our collect shews us the use which we are to make of it. The resurrection of Christ is not only a fact to be believed, but it is also in its effects a truth to be experienced. An histo. rical assent to the fact, without a perception of its power in our own hearts, will be of no avail to salvation. We must rise with Christ from the grave of natural corruption; and, being “ risen with Christ,” must “seek those things
* Bingham's Antiquities, book xx. chap. 5, sect. 5. - In the primitive times the Christians of all churches on this day used this morning salutation, Christ is risen ; to which those who were saluted answered, Christ is risen indeed, or else thus, and hath appeared unto Simon a custom still retained in the Greek church. And our church, supposing us as eager of the joyful news as they were, is loath to withhold from us long the pleasure of expressing it; and therefore, as soon as the absolution is pronounced, and we are thereby rendered fit for rejoicing, she begins her office of praise with anthems proper to the day, encouraging her inembers to call upon one another to keep the feast, for that Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, and is also risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept, sic.” Wheatly, page 211, Oxford edit.
« which are above, where Christ sitteth at the “ right hand of God. We must set our affec“ tions on things above, and not on things be“ neath, being dead, and having our life hid
s neath, brist in God's of two partse the bles
Our collect consists of two parts, an introduction and a prayer. In the preface the bles. sed consequences of Christ's resurrection are recited, and in the prayer we implore for our. ' selves an experimental acquaintance with its saving effects.
The preface is an act of adoration addressed to “the Lord God Omnipotent" as “the Father « of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That exertion of 6 power which God wrought in Christ when He “ raised Him from the dead,” fully justifies the epithet by which we glorify His name. For to « overcome death and open unto us the gate of “ everlasting life,” by the resurrection of His “ only begotten Son Jesus Christ,” was an act of “ Almighty" power, and encourages us in the petition which we offer for that “special “ grace" whereby alone the desires which it hath pụt within us can be brought to good effect.
When our collect asserts that “death” is « overcome,” it alludes to the triumphal language of St. Paul, (1 Cor. xv. 54) which the Apostle has cited from the evangelical prophet ( Is. xxv. 8.) - Death is swallowed up in vic“tory." * This victory indeed has its several
*“ Metaphora est, desumpta a mari, palude, voragine profundâ, igne, animantibus voracibus, quorum est injecta aut hausta eum in modum absumere, ut plane evanescant et dispareant.”-“ Est præterea in hoc dicto prophetæ Ogup woor, quod obiter illud inspicientes non observant. Cum enim mortis ipsius proprie attributum censeatur ho
gradations, and will not be complete in its of. fects till “ the resurrection of the just;' wben, with respect to “ the general assembly of the “ church of the first-born whose names are writ“ ten in heaven,” death shall be abolished with all its preliminaries and consequences as though it had never been known. For then “God shall “ wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there
shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor
crying, neither shall there be any more pain : “ for the former things will be passed away.” (Rev. xxi. 4.) Then indeed, when “this cor“ ruptible shall have put on incorruption, and " this mortal shall have put on immortality, “ shall be brought to pass the saying that is « written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Cor. xv. 54.) In the mean time however, our Redeemer having triumphed in His own person as the head of His church, and the blessings purchased by His cross being secured by virtue of His resurrection from the dead, our church is justified in asserting that “God hath so overcome death through His only begotten “ Son Jesus Christ.” And believers are justified in exclaiming, with the triumphant tone of the Apostle, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, “ where is thy victory? The sting of death is “ sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but - thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. xv. 55. 57.)
It may be askerl, On whose account and for whose benefit is death overcome ? Ilas the vic
mines involvere et absorbere : propheta emphaticè simul et eleganter mortis abolitionem et destructionem ex positurus, mortem ipsum, quam Mythologi (reci sub imagine Stygie palredis et Acherontis exhibent, docet involutum et absorp. tum iri.” Vitringa in Jesaiam.