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of his Almighty person and character by whom these stupendous acts were wrought; for in the proper apprehension of his Person we can only have a proper apprehension of the greatness of the acts themselves, and the infinite suitability both of his Person and works to our circumstances.
And here I think it not necessary on the present occasion, to run back any further into the scripture history concerning the eternal design of Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons, on this mysterious subject relative to the church, than merely to observe, that while each glorious Person in the Godhead took part in those infinite transactions, it was the Son of God in our nature, that by that union of God and man in one Person, became the executor and administrator of all those vast designs in the accomplishment of the divine counsel! And how infinitely suited he and he alone was for this work, will at once appear if we contemplate the almightiness of his Person under those two points of character when combined in one, " In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily!" Col. ii. 9.—“ And on him the Lord hath laid the iniquity of us all,” Isa. liii. 6. Such an union meeting in one and the same Person dazzle the spiritual eye to behold, and without adding a single observation more compels the mind into the most palpable conviction of the competency of him by whom those sovereign acts ascribed to him were wrought, "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh," 1 Tim. iii. 16.
But we must not stop here. The Son of God in our nature, coming forth for the salvation of his people (as the prophet described him, Habak. iii. 13.) came with all that infinite fulness and suitability, being divinely fitted for all the purposes of his mission. His essential and eternal power and Godhead being his own, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost in the unity
of the divine nature, gave infinite dignity and infinite value to all he said, to all he wrought, to all he suffered. All indeed were the combined acts of the indwelling Godhead in the body of flesh which he assumed, when (as the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to express the marvellous relation by the pen of the apostle) "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we (said John) beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John i. 14. Hence, therefore, we behold somewhat (when our spiritual apprehensions are excited, and called forth by sovereign grace to spiritual discernment) of the Person of our most glorious Christ: and although all we can see and know in the present twilight of our being is but as through a glass darkly, yet, through divine teaching, we can and do trace the stamp of Godhead in all the manifestations of our Lord Jesus Christ. They bore every one of them the current coin of heaven: they were all pure, like the richest gold, without the least alloy and so infinitely precious and invaluable, when ascertained in the divine balance, as to weigh down even the possibility of equal remuneration to his body, the church, to all eternity!
I stay not, in this place, to gather from the holy scriptures the statement there given of the marvellous plan by which the Lord of life and glory accomplished the vast purposes for which he became incarnate; this, however blessed and interesting as it is in itself, cannot be brought within the limits I am constrained to observe in a little work of this nature: but one part of it, however, must not be overlooked, because it is indeed the very part on which the basis of the destruction of death, and the introduction of life and immortality as relating to the church rests all her security; I mean, that in all those mighty works of grace the Lord Jesus acted not as a private person, but as the public Head and surety of all his people. The very assumption of
our nature implied as much, and the volume of both testaments of scripture decidedly confirmed it: hence, when it is said, that "he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," Heb. ix. 26. the sin he put away were the sins of his people, "for he was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. v. 21.-when he redeemed us from the curse of the law, it was in "being made a curse for us," Gal. iii. 13. Both the sin and the curse were charged upon Christ as the head and surety of his church and people; and being laid on him, consequently they were taken from us, for on both they could not be chargeable. This is the very sum and substance of the gospel; it is the ground work of faith; it is the nail fastened in a sure place by the "master of assemblies," on which the whole of salvation hangs and in the perfect conviction and assurance that our most glorious Christ personated all his people in every act both of doing and suffering, all our high hopes of salvation and happiness are bottomed. And hence, in all his triumphs we triumph, in all his victories he giveth us the victory: in consequence of our union with him we are virtually considered as one with him, and in all he hath wrought for salvation, as though we had wrought the same ourselves; for as the church in every individual, as well as collectively considered, are said to be "members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," Eph. v. 30; so is he said to be "the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all," Eph. i. 22, 23.
I proceed now to the prosecution of what was proposed under the second branch of the subject, namely, of the mighty deeds themselves wrought by our most glorious Christ, in his having "abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
We shall enter with greater accuracy into the spi
ritual apprehension of those glorious achievements of our most glorious Christ, if we previously analyze the several distinct features of death (taking the light of holy scripture for our guide) so as to have a clear view of what is contained in this very blessed declaration, that Christ "hath abolished death." Now there are three separate characters of death as stated in the word of God, which, though all alike the consequent effects of man's original apostacy from God at the fall, are yet differently marked and distinguished from each other. There is the natural death of the body, which takes place in the whole and every individual son and daughter of Adam, when the soul takes her departure from the mere animal life of flesh and blood: the Holy Ghost, by his servant James, hath defined this in a few words, when saying, "the body without the spirit is dead," James ii. 26. And there is a spiritual death, which Adam sustained in the day of his transgression, and in which the whole of his posterity were involved: this also is defined in strong characters by the Holy Ghost, when it is said, "they are dead in trespasses and sins," Eph. ii. 1. and this is the effect of man's original apostacy from God; for as the soul is the life of the body, so Christ is the life of the soul and since the Adam-fall transgression until quickened into a new and spiritual life by regeneration, every man by nature is spiritually dead before God. And there is an eternal death, which consists in a total separation from God both of soul and body for ever; and this, in the alarming language of scripture, is called the "second death," Rev. xx. 14. and hence, in the same chapter, and in allusion to the reign of grace by the recovery of the redeemed of the Lord through him "who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," it is said, "blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power," Rev. xx. 6.
How our most glorious Christ wrought out a full and complete deliverance from such tremendous evils for all his people, it will be our next point in the prosecution of the subject to state, confining every iota of what is advanced from what is clearly discoverable on scripture ground. I have already observed, in the former part of this little tract, that while each glorious Person in the Godhead took part in this stupendous mystery of godliness, it was our most glorious Christ who became the visible Jehovah, for the public executive part of it, "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father he hath declared him," John i. 18. I then remarked to you, that the infinite dignity of his Person, of underived Godhead, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, carried an infinity of value to all the thoughts, and words, and actions wrought by the indwelling Godhead in his human nature: and I further desired you to connect with it, in your spiritual apprehension of those statements, that in and through the whole the Lord Jesus Christ acted not privately for himself but for his people. I would hope that through the unction of the Holy Ghost, in his glorifying the Lord Jesus to our hearts, such views may be kept alive in our remembrance, while we now go on to prosecute the subject further, under those features of character in which he is here described as having “abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
Now the Holy Ghost, in reference to the very point we are more particularly dwelling upon, namely, Christ's "abolishing death," hath thus stated the special and personal fitness of our Lord for this mighty work, when saying by his servant the apostle, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of