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it so plainly relates to the long suffering of God towards men before the flood.
To sum up all, and state the essence of our belief in this latter part of the article in few words, and without danger of mistake as to the circumstance of our Saviour's death, we do truly assent unto this, as a fundamental truth, that the only begotten and eternal Son of God, for the working of our redemption, did, in our nature, which he took upon him, really and truly die, so as, by the violence of the torments, actually to separate his soul from his body; and, though neither his soul nor body was separated from his divine nature, yet the human body being deprived of the agency of the human soul, was left without the least life: further, that, for the confirmation of his death, and the reality of his resurrection soon to follow, the same blessed Person had his body prepared for funeral, bound up and laid in spices, and buried after the custom of the Jews, and in a sepulchre in which never man was before laid: and, lastly, when all the sufferings of Christ were finished on the cross, and his soul separated from his body, yet it died not, though his body was dead, but underwent the condition of the souls of such as die, and so did entirely undergo the law of death. His soul went to a place of separation, where the souls of the faithful are in joy and felicity; i. e. to paradise, where they are kept
till God's good pleasure to restore them to the body; but, because there was no sin in him, therefore God suffered not his Holy One to see corruption, neither left he his soul in this imperfect, though painful state of separation: by which he affords sufficient security to all who die in the Lord Jesus, and who consequently belong to Christ, of never coming under the power of Satan, or suffering in the place prepared for evil spirits. And thus, and for these purposes, may every Christian say, in that qualified and limited sense only in which the expression has been illustrated and explained, "I be"lieve that Christ died, and descended into hell.” -Now to God, &c.
FIFTH ARTICLE OF THE CREED:
"The third day he rose again from the dead."
1 COR. XV. 20.
Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
ROMANS, 1. 4.
And declared to be the Son of God, with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
my brethren, is the Christian's triumphour hope of glory. Hereby have we assurance to build up our faith in the promises of the Gospel. This is the pledge, the earnest of all good things to come: Christians, without this, would be of all others the most miserable, since the necessity that is laid upon us to take up our cross daily, would not only subject us to comfortless tribulation and doubt during our mournful pilgrimage through life; but without prospect of
any harvest, our toil would overwhelm us—our seed would be sown in vain. But now having the promise, that if we are planted in the likeness af Christ's death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; in the certainty of the latter we receive fresh consolation and support to go on from faith to faith, through the righteousness of God that is revealed unto us. And as it was absolutely necessary to establish the certainty of Christ's death, in the former Lecture, in order to prove the reality of his resurrection; so in this, unless we obtain a full confidence in that act of his divine power, our preaching is vain, and your faith vain also; i. e. it will profit us nothing, that Christ died, unless we believe he is risen again; for if Christ be not raised, ye are in your sins. But as this is our faith (my brethren), that Christ in due time died for the ungodly (a character the very BEST deserve, when brought to the pattern of their work), so have we now obtained a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, that we shall have power also thereby to triumph over our enemies in the flesh, and attain to the resurrection of eternal life, through the gift of the Spirit preparing us for the inheritance of the saints in light. A prospect of such ravishing delight must furnish the most pleasing task to examine and dwell upon.
The subject of my present inquiry con
cerning the particulars of this article of our Creed, will consist principally of two parts:
First, The scriptural account as to the reality of the fact, which sets forth the great importance of our being fully satisfied respecting every circumstance of the relation, both from prophecy and positive testimony;
Secondly, The value of the fact, as being the first fruits of holiness. And,
Thirdly, I shall conclude with a short application of this most gracious doctrine.
Now the former circumstance, viz. the death of our Lord, may be considered as the distinguished seal of our faith; the latter (his resurrection), the earnest of our hope: for though they both unite to assure us of the greatest happiness that human nature can arrive at, yet they differ as to that part of us, on which they operate. The seal, or proof, refers especially to the understanding; the earnest, to our affections. Though the seal assures us, yet it is no part of the inheritance; whereas the earnest so assures us, that it gives a part of the inheritance itself; it works that joy in the true Christian's heart, which is a foretaste of heaven, and with which the saints are filled above. But as we are recommended by the Apostle (1 Pet. iii. 15), to be always ready to give a reason of the hope that is in us, we naturally begin with the information of our understanding; for it is neces