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THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
“ He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where
the Lord lay.”—Matt. 28:6.
We have contemplated Christ's humiliation, wherein the Sun of righteousness appeared as a setting sun, gone out of sight. But as the sun, when to us it is set, begins a new day in another part of the world, so Christ, having finished his course in this world, rises again, and that to perform another glorious part of his work in the world above. In his death, he was in a sense totally eclipsed; but in his resurrection, he begins to recover his light and glory. An angel descends from heaven, to roll away the stone, and, with it, the reproach of his death ; and to announce his resurrection to the two Marys, whose love to Christ had drawn them to visit the sepulchre, where they lately left him.
At this time (the Lord being newly risen) the keepers were trembling, and as dead men, so terrible was the majesty and awful solemnity attending Christ's resurrection. But, to encourage these pious souls, the angel anticipates them with these good tidings: "He is not here; for he is risen, as he said : come, see the place where the Lord lay:" as if he had said, be not troubled, though you have not the end you came for, one sight more of your dear, though dead Jesus; yet you have not lost your labor; for, to your eternal comfort I tell you, "he is risen, as he said.” And to put it out of doubt, come hither and satisfy yourselves, "See the place where the Lord lay.” In which words we have both a declaration and confirmation of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
1. "He is not here.” Here indeed you laid him, here you left him, and here you thought to find him as you left him; but you are happily mistaken. He is not here. He is risen, nyegen; the word imports the active power, or self-quickening principle, by which Christ raised himself from the state of the dead. It was the divine nature, or Godhead of Christ, which revived and raised the manhood.
2. Here is also a plain confirmation of Christ's resurrection, and that, first, from Christ's own prediction. "He is risen, as he said.” He foretold that which I declare to be now fulfilled. Let it not therefore seem incredible to you. Secondly, by their own sight. "Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” The grave hath lost its guest; it is now empty; death hath lost its prey. It received, but could not retain him ; "Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Hence, Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the Almighty power of his
own Godhead, revived, and rose from the dead; to the terror and consternation of his enemies, and the unspeakable consolation of believers.
That our Lord Jesus Christ, though laid, was not lost in the grave, but the third day revived and rose again, is a truth confirmed to us " by many infallible proofs," as Luke witnesses. Acts, 1:3. We have testimonies of it both from heaven and earth. From heaven, we have the testimony of angels who cannot deceive us. The angel tells the two Marys, in the text, "He is risen." We have also testimonies of it from men, holy men, who were eye-witnesses of this truth, to whom he showed himself alive, by the space of forty days after his resurrection, on no less than *nine occasions. At one time five hundred brethren saw him at once. 1 Cor. 15 : 6. These were holy persons, who durst not deceive, and who confirmed their testimony with their blood. So that no point of religion is rendered more infallibly certain than this before us.
* John, 20:14. Mark, 16 : 12. John, 20: 19. 1 Cor. 15:5-7. ! Cor. 15: 8. John, 20: 26. John, 21:1, 2. Luke, 24:36.
And blessed be God that it is so. For if it were not, then were the Gospel in vain, 1 Cor. 15 : 14, seeing it hangs the whole weight of our faith, hope, and salvation upon Christ as risen from the dead. If this were not so, then would the holy and divinely inspired apostles be found false witnesses. 1 Cor. 15 : 15; for they all, with one mouth, constantly, and to the death, affirmed it. If Christ be not risen, then are believers yet in their sins. 1 Cor. 15 : 17. Here
was raised again for our justification.” Rom. 4 : 25. Whilst Christ was dying, and continued in the state of the dead, the price of our redemption was paying; the payment was not completed till he revived and rose again. Hence the whole force and weight of our justification depends upon his resurrection. Nay, had not Christ risen, the dead in Christ " had perished," 1 Cor. 15 : 18, even the dead who died in the faith of Christ, and of whose salvation there now remains no ground to doubt.
Moreover, had he not revived and risen from the dead, how could all the types that prefigured this have been satisfied ;- and all the predictions of his resurrection, by which it was so plainly foretold, have been fulfilled ? See Matt. 12 : 40; Luke, 24 : 46; Ps. 16:10; 1 Cor. 15: 4. Had he not risen from the dead, how could he have been installed in the glory he now has in heaven, and which was promised him before the world was, on account of his death and sufferings ? "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living," Rom. 14:9; and that, in this state of dominion and glorious advancement, he might powerfully apply the virtue and benefits of his blood to us. So, then, there remains no doubt of the fact of Christ's resurrection. Instead, therefore,
of attempting further to confirm it, I will proceed to explain the nature and manner of his resurrection.
1. Christ rose from the dead with awful majesty. "And, behold, there was a great earthquake ; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” Matt. 28 : 2–4. Human infirmity was not able to bear such heavenly majesty as attended the scenes of that morning. Nature sank under it. This earthquake was, as one calls it, a sign of triumph, or token of victory, given by Christ, not only to the keepers and the neighboring city, but to the whole world, showing that he had overcome death in its own dominions, and, like a conqueror, lifted up his head above all his enemies.
2. And to increase the splendor and the triumph of that day, his resurrection was attended with the resurrection of many of the saints; who had slept in their graves till then, and were awakened and raised to attend the Lord at his rising. "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Matt. 27:52, 53. This wonder was designed, both to adorn the resurrection of Christ, and to give a specimen or pledge of our resurrection; which also is to be in virtue of his. This indeed was the resurrection of saints, and none but saints, the resurrection of many saints, yet it was but a special resurrection, intended only to show what God will one day do for all his saints; and for the present, to give testimony of Christ's resurrection from the dead. They were seen, and known of many in the city, who doubtless never thought to have seen them any more in this world. To inquire curiously, as some do, who they were, what discourse they had with those to whom they appeared, and what became of them afterwards, is vain. God hath cast a veil upon these things, that we might content ourselves with the written word; and he that " will not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will he believe though one rose from the dead.”
3. As Christ rose from the dead with those attendants who accompanied him at his resurrection; so it was by the power of his own Godhead that he quickened and raised himself; and by virtue of his resurrection were they also raised who accompanied him. It was not the angel who rolled back the stone that revived him in the sepulchre, but he resumed his own life; so he tells us, John, 10:17; "I lay down my life, that I may take it again.” Hence, 1 Pet. 3:18, he is said to be put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, that is, by the power of his Godhead, or Divine nature, which is opposed there to flesh, or his human nature. By the eternal Spirit he offered himself up to God, when he died, Heb. 9 : 14; that is, by his own Godhead, not the third Person in the Trinity, for then it could not have been ascribed to him as his own act, that he offered up himself. And by the same Spirit he was quickened again. Therefore the apostle well observes, "that he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead.” Rom. 1:4. Now, if he had been raised by the power of the Father, or of the Holy Spirit only, and not by his own, how could he be declared by his resurrection to be the Son of God? What more had appeared in him than in others ? Others are raised by the power of God. So that in this respect also it was a marvellous resurrection. Never any did, or shall rise as Christ rose, by a self-quickening principle. For though many dead saints rose at that time, it was by virtue of Christ's resurrection that their graves were