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Lord's people assemble, and more especially among those of them“ who through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage,” Heb. ii. 15. There is a beautiful correspondence between this proclamation, and that of the mighty angel which John saw in vision come down from heaven, “ clothed with a cloud and a rainbow :” and he said, “ that he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth ; and lifting up his hand to heaven, he sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, that there should be time no longer,” Rev. x. 1-6. This destruction of time, and the abolishing of death, are to the same amount. And it may be said of both, as Joseph taught of God said of the vision of Pharaoh, being doubled, “ because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass,” Gen xli. 32. The spiritual church of our most glorious Christ is highly interested in these immense events. “ Death abolished, and life and immortality brought to light through the gospel,” are the precious privileges of every truly redeemed and regenerated child of God to know now, and to live in the full assurance of by faith. And in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, and the mystery of God is finished, then will be followed the consummation of this mighty angel's oath, all will be eternity, “ and there shall be time no longer !!!
Let me only by the way observe, that the perfect conviction of these momentous truths, and in the triumph of our most glorious Christ over death, hell, and the grave, as the Almighty Head of his church and people, now received by faith into the spiritual mind and understanding and conscience of every redeemed and regenerated child of God, and under the testimony and unction of God the Holy Ghost lived upon and enjoyed day by day, in the personal knowledge of and communion with the Father and with his Son Jesus
Christ, these blessed and divine properties realize and bring home to the soul things of a spiritual nature however remote in time, and afford an instant and abiding possession, and become what the apostle prayed for respecting the church, when he said, “ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost,” Rom. xv. 13.
In saluting the spiritual church of Christ at the opening of a new year on this soul-animating subject, nothing can be more highly suited for the purpose than in what the scripture holds forth, both in relation to the person and to the almighty acts of him “who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” There is a vast comprehension in the sentence ; and at the same time, the grand truths are fully expressed: it is a sentence in which every word tells, and the glorious events declared to have been accomplished are greater in magnitude than the creation or destruction of a thousand worlds. The infinite nature and dignity of his person, to whom alone is ascribed such stupendous acts; the acts themselves, which are beyond the grasp of all created power, and incapable of achievement by any arm less than God; the eventful consequences involved in the mystery, first, in abolishing death, not simply killing death (if the term be admissible) but annihilating death, and destroying its very being and remembrance for ever; and secondly, bringing in life and immortality to light through the gospel, by which the whole redeemed and regenerated church of God are recovered from all the tremendous effects of sin in the Adam-fall transgression, and brought to the everlasting enjoyment of salvation in and by Christ: these are the trophies of him, and the result of his own personal and incommunicable work when, as the prophet describeth, " his own arm brought salvation unto him, and his fury it upheld him,” Isa. lxiii. 5.
In following up the subject under the leading particulars contained in it, I propose, as the Lord shall be pleased to enable me, primarily, and in the consciousness of its first and highest importance, to beg the attention of the spiritual church of our most glorious Christ to the contemplation of his Almighty Person and character by whom the destruction of death, and the restoration of life and immortality were accomplished. And secondly, of the mighty deeds themselves, and of the blessed and auspicious consequences resulting to the spiritual church of Christ from them, as the free gift and sovereign grace of God through the gospel. And if the Lord, who gives the subject, will mercifully accompany our contemplation of it with his divine teaching and unction, the savour of his name and his salvation will not only open to his redeemed and regenerated people the new year in grace, but daily become a source of unspeakable joy and comfort through the whole of our time-state upon earth, until faith is lost in sight, and hope consummated in glory.
But before I enter upon those distinct branches of the subject which I have proposed, I would gently take each reader by the hand, and request a momentary pause at the threshold just to impress the mind with one or two observations for the better entering upon it. And let me first remark, that the spiritual understanding must be enlightened of the Lord, or there will be no saving apprehension or relish in the heart for the Lord; for though our most glorious Christ hath wrought and accomplished all that is here said of him, and is himself divinely suited alike for all his people, including the most desperate cases and the most ignorant cases of sinners, as sinners; yet without divine instruction, both the knowledge of his Person, and the belief of his
finished salvation, are not attainable by all human learning. That single scripture (and there are many others to the same purport) throws to the ground all the presumptuous reasoning of men, and all that philosophy, falsely so called, can invent—“ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. ii. 14. Observe, it is not said that the natural man will not, but he cannot. Such is the physical impossibility of the thing itself!
And let me at the same time further remark, that this objection against mere natural powers, for the attainment of divine knowledge void of instruction from the Lord, is so far from discouraging the humble and the timid, that it tends on the contrary to give the strongest hope. Among the absolute and unconditional promises of the old testament scripture, this stood eminently conspicuous, “ All thy children shall be taught of the Lord,” Isa. liv. 13.-and our adorable Lord, under the new, brought it forward by way of proof that his people had this very teaching, “ It is written in the prophets, (said Jesus) and they shall be all taught of God; every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me,' John vi. 45. And what can be more soul-satisfying to every child of God? Are you come to Christ? Do you believe that "he hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel ?” Then is it plain, according to the tenor of the Lord's own words, that you have been taught of God; for a science like this was never learnt in nature's school.
And thirdly, to add no more, (for I will hold the reader's hand no longer from entering upon the subject itself) let it not be supposed, that the attainments in this divine knowledge " which maketh wise unto salvation" are in all, which are divinely taught alike. It is in this particular in the Lord's household, as it is in a man's household ; all the children are not of equal age, of equal stature, of equal apprehension: some are highly favoured with “ the spirit of wisdom, and revelation in the knowledge of Christ;" they have enlarged conceptions given them both of the glories of his person, and the infinite fulness, suitability, and completeness of his salvation; they lay in his bosom as John did, and sit with him at the table as Lazarus sat: others are weak and timid, and go lean, and are often in bondage fears : and there are not a few of the Lord's tried ones who are the subjects of pity from infirmities of body which, like Paul, they groan under being burdened. But amidst this diversity of character, which are as various in the mind as are the features of the body, the question is, are they children and taught of God?
Are they made acquainted with the plague of their own hearts ? out of love with themselves and in love with Christ Jesus? These are the standards of character, and which testify how divinely suited he (with whom they are in love) is for them, and they for him ; his is the grace to give, and their's the blessedness to receive. And as all alike, in the whole election of grace, when taught of God have “the sentence of death in themselves, that they should not trust in themselves, but in him which raiseth the dead,” the glorious view of our most glorious Christ here proposed for the contemplation of his spiritual church at the entrance on the new year, is equally suited to all. Oh! for an enlarged spiritual apprehension to the whole of Christ's body, the church, that we may look steadily and steadfastly to him “who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
I begin as I proposed, namely, in the first place, as of the highest importance in the subject, to call the attention of the spiritual church to the contemplation