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ment by humiliation to the will of God, we must not soothe ourselves with such vain hopes. The Lord commandeth us to hold fast and repent, threatening that if we will not watch he will come upon us as a thief, and we shall not know the hour of his coming. If we watch not continually, death is treacherous, he will take us suddenly.
Let all of us therefore, in the name of God, learn to prevent death betimes by a continual watchfulness, that our life may be such that be he never so cruel or treacherous, let him come when or how he will, he may still find us afoot, ready watching for his coming, that by him we may be dissolved to meet our Saviour in the clouds. Aye, but may some object, I will have a strong guard about me, and death shall not surprise me so easily as you think. All thou canst do, I tell thee, is in vain. Oh no, thou canst not resist him so, (unless thou be in Christ,) but in spite of thee he will come suddenly upon thee. For this is most certain, keep thyself guarded as thou wilt, death always findeth a breach to enter where there is either sin inherent or imputed. The reason is, because the thief is within doors, the weapon is within us which woundeth us. Sin it is this weapon, which within us fighteth for death, and slayeth us, by which means death suddenly destroyeth the wicked like unto a treacherous enemy.
4. It marcheth under a strong leader. Again death is so much the more terrible, as it cometh under the conduct of so strong a leader, whose hatred is unspeakable, whose policy unmatchable, whose power so great that if the Lord would suffer him, he would quickly destroy and devour all mankind, who, (as our Saviour speaketh",) for his cruelty, is called a murderer from the beginning, which moveth rur apostle here to tell us, that therefore Christ came to loose the works of the devil, and deliver his children, who for fear of death, were all their life-time kept in bondage. So Christ only he must free us from this cruel strong enemy, encountering hand in hand with the sorrows of death.
5. Death is terrible in regard of attendance. Again death is a cruel enemy, in respect of the train wherewith it is attended, bringing unto the second death, to eternal and unspeakable torments, to dwell in unquenchable fire with legions of devils for ever; where the breath of the Lord, like a river in brimstone, shall increase the measure of perpetual torments; so that the first is so much the more terrible, in that it bringeth unto a state irrevocable. If therefore, when we refuse the means of grace, we walk on still in our own lusts, there is no remedy ; when death cometh, he is that cruel sergeant that will admit of no bail, do what they can do, die they shall, and this first death shall bring them to the eternity of the second. Again 6. Death is a terrible
2 Rev. chap. 3. ver. 3.
3 John, chap. 8. ver. 44.
power considered, who overcame the same.
The fearfulness thereof appeareth by him who conquered the same, Christ Jesus the Son of God, equal with the Father in glory, only he could overcome death, he it was who for us must wrestle with it, yea not only so, but also in a manner, must yield unto the foil thereof in his human nature, that by death (as it is in my text) he might destroy him which had the power of death, that is the devil. When kings have wars abroad, they use for the most part to send forth their lieutenants and generals (to quiet such small broils) with small armies. But when the king himself cometh unto the field, displaying the royal standard, then every
one knoweth there is a most strong and potent enemy to encounter withal, which none but the king himself can subdue, leaving his court, and putting himself to the hazard of a dangerous battle. So we may perceive what a cruel enemy death is, when Christ the King of glory could not subdue this enemy, neither by general nor lieutenant, but must come himself into the field, leaving his courts and royal palace, humbling himself as a servant. As Davido flying from his son Absalom, after they had passed the brook Kidron, going up Mount Olivet did, as he went up weeping and lamenting, his head covered, bare-footed, mourn in an humble manner full of sorrow and anguish, so • the Son of God (to free us) was (as it were) pulled from the
6 2 Sam. chap. 15. ver. 30.
heavens to encounter this strong enemy, in abject, humble, and despised manner, chased from place to place, not having whereon to lay his head, until at last, having passed the brook Kedron, the forerunners of his great afflictions, going up unto Mount Olivet, he offered up prayers with strong cries and tears, his sweat drops of blood trickling on the ground, with lamentations, unto him who was able to save him. Doth not he yet appear a strong enemy? Nay more, this was not enough, but
7. The terror of this enemy appeareth in the death of Christ; for it was not enough, nor could it satisfy this cruel foe to pull down the Son of God from his palace of heaven, having him abased, humbled, afflicted, and condemned, but he must also be wounded, and slain in the fight, he must have a full cup of the sorrows of death : he could not overcome death but by death. Is not death then a terrible, cruel enemy which could not otherwise be overcome, but by the death of Christ ? Is not his ugly face then (without life in Christ) enough to cause us to tremble, and shiver in pieces ?
And lastly, In the eighth place, if death could not be conquered, but by the death of Christ, let us consider how miserable the estate of a natural man is without Christ. They are branches cut from the root, they shall have no part in him, his death shall nothing profit them; although he by his mighty power hath subdued and taken away the sting of death to his children ; they are none of that society, they are strangers unto him, they heard not his voice; therefore his mighty power shall nothing avail them, but leave them not only to die, but also to be swallowed up of death for ever. It shall not be so with his children, die they must • too, but death shall not hurt them, which is,
The second general point, that there is no condemnation to them, that are in Christ Jesus. I say not, but there is matter of condemnation, but that there is no condemnation. There are stripes due unto us, but Christ he took upon
him the strokes due unto us, he was wounded
for our transgressions, and with his stripes are we healed. He hath fought the battle for us, and killed death on his own dunghill. This was the wonder of God's love unto us, that because he foresaw, that unless Christ died for us, there was no life for us, so therefore Christ would needs die for us (such was his love) that by his blood we might have deliverance. So it is said that Christ hath redeemed and washed the Church with his blood. So the virtue of this blood, whereby it is so powerful in redeeming, is well showed, where he saith (making a comparison with the blood of bulls and goats in the law) “ howd much more shall the blood of Christ, which, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself unto God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” Aye, but may some man object, what is this to me, how shall I have interest in this blood of Christ, since it washeth not all, but those who are his children. I confess the virtue of this blood is reserved only for those to whom it is appointed, and shall only be powerful unto them, for we must not think that rebellious, hard-hearted wretches shall be partakers thereof, of whom the Lord complaineth, saying, “ Ao son honoureth his father, and a servant his master; if then I be a father, where is mine honour ? and if I be a master, where is my fear?” Do we think that such who dishonour God's name, profane the sabbath, and the like, can have any comfort to be washed with this blood, since they continually dishonour him ? Surely no ! I confess there is no creature so miserable, but if he lay hold and accept of this blood, and walk forwards in the same, but to him it shall be effectual, and he washed thereby, from all the terror of his sins; but I speak of such sinners, who sin with an high hand, in whom sin hath a peaceable dwelling, in his full strength, such can have no part, nor be washed with this blood, continuing in their sins.
But to clear this question, it is written, that “ blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, for
C Acts, chap. 20. ver. 28. e Mala, chap. 1. ver. 6.
d Heb. chap. 9. ver. 14. Rev. chap. 20. ver. 6.
on such the second death hath no power." The first death then you see is but a drudge to God's children, it but bringeth them unto the state of immortal glory, his cruellest stroke hath this comfortable issue. But wouldest thou know indeed, if the second death shall have no power over thee and that thou art freed therefrom ?
Look to it, there is no overcoming without holiness; mock at it as thou wilt, blessing is joined with holiness, and without holiness look for no blessing. But still it may be thou wilt object, But how shall I know this holiness to be assured of blessing? How shouldest thou know, I say, thou must examine thyself, whether thou hast attained unto a resurrection before the second death; unto a resurrection before the resurrection. It is called the first resurrection, a dying to sin, and living unto Christ, a forsaking of ourselves, becoming new creatures, &c. You cannot be ignorant, what our Saviour Christ answered unto that disciple, who before he would follow him, did crave leave to bury his father, you
know our Saviour's answer was, “ Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead;" a strange thing for dead men to bury dead men, but it is so, and he ranketh those who are spiritually dead in sin, with such as were dead by nature. So that as there is a resurrection before a resurrection, so we see here is a death being alive, a death before a death. So the apostle speaketh" of the voluptuous widow, who is dead even whilst she is alive. Andi our blessed Saviour speaketh of a time, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear it shall live. So that all of us are but dead men in the estate of nature, although we live until we attain unto this first resurrection. Andk it is further amplified, where after he had made mention of the first resurrection of the soul, from the death of sin by hearing the voice of the Son of God in the Gospel, he there mentioneth also, that they must not marvel at his former doctrine, for even a time should come, when he would finish that which he had begun, as in this life, they who
8 Matt. chap. 8. ver. 21.
John, chap. 5. ver. 25.
h 1 Tim. chap. 5. ver. 6.