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that feareth an oath, Eccles. ix. 2. Jesus Christ riseth from the dead: The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. The system of the infidel sinks : he errs, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. Matt. xxii. 29.
In those dismal days, tyranny triumphed over the perseverance of martyrs. Innocence was oppressed, and the rewards of virtue seemed to be buried in the tomb of him, who, above all others, had devoted himself to it, Jesus Christ riseth again : The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. The designs of the enemies of innocence are all frustrated, and their attempts to disgrace purity serve only to exalt its glory, and to perpetuate its memory. Let the tyrants of the church, then, rage against us; let the gates of hell, Matt. xvi. 18. consult to destroy us ; let the kings of the earth, more furious oftner than hell itself, set themselves against the Lord and against his anointed, Psal. ii. 2. let them set up gibbets, let them equip galleys, let them kindle fires to burn us, and prepare racks to torture us ; they themselves, and all their cruel inventions, shall serve the purposes of the almighty God: The Assyrian is only the rod of his anger, Isa. x. 5. Herod and Pilate do only what his hand and his counsel determined before to be done, Acts iv. 28. God knoweth how to restrain their fury, and to say to them, as he saith to the ocean, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further : and here shall thy proud waves be stayed, Job xxxviii.2.
4. Finally, in those fatal days, death triumphed over all human hope of immortal glory. The destiny of all believers is united to that of Jesus Christ. He had said to his disciples, because I lide, ye shall live also, John xiv. 19. In like manner, on the same principle, we may say, If he be dead, we are dead also. And how could we have hoped to live, if he who is our life, had not freed himself from the state of the dead ? Jesus Christ riseth from the dead.
The voice of rejoicing is in the tabernacles of the righteous. Nature is re-instated in its primæval dignity; death is swallowed up in victory, 1 Cor. xv. 54. the grave is disarmed of its sting. Let my eye-sight decay ; let my body bow under the weight of old age; let the organs of my body cease to perform their wonted operations ; let all my senses fail ; let
; death sweep away the dear relatives of my bosom, and my friends, who are as mine own soul, Deut. xiii. 6. let these eyes, gushing with tears, attended with sobs, and sorrows, and groans, behold her expire, who was my company in solitude, my counsel in difficulty, my comfort in disgrace; let me follow to the grave the bones, the carcase, the precious remains of this dear part of myself; my converse is suspended, but it is not destroyed; Lazarus, my friend, sleepeth, but if I believe, i shall see the glory of God. Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life, John xi. 2, 40, 25. He is risen from the dead, we therefore shall one day rise. Jesus Christ is not a private person, he is a public representative, he is the surety of the church, the first fruits of them that sleep. If the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you ; he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you, 1 Cor. xv. 20. Rom. viii. 2.
Was ever joy more rational ? was triumph ever more glorious ? The triumphant entries of conquerors, the songs that rend the air in praise of their victories, the pyramids on which their ex
ploits are transmitted to posterity, when they have subdued a general, routed an army, humbled the pride, and repressed the rage of a foe; ought not all these to yield to the joys that are occasioned by the event which we celebrate to-day? Ought not all these to yield to the victories of our incomparable Lord, and to his people's expressions of praise ? One part of the gratitude, which is due to beneficial events, is to know their value, and to be affected with the benefits which they procure.
Let us celebrate the praise of the author of our redemption, my brethren; let us call heaven and earth to witness our gratitude. Let an increase of zeal accompany this part of our engagements. Let a double portion of fire from heaven kindle our sacrifice; and with a heart penetrated with the liveliest gratitude, and with the most ardent love, let each christian exclaim. Blessed be the God, and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten me again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, i Pet. i. 3. Let him join his voice to that of angels, and in concert with the celestial intelligences, let him sing, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts ; the whole earth is full of his glory, Isa. vi. 3. Let the tabernacles of the righteous resound with the text, the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly: the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly.
But what melancholy thoughts are these, which interrupt the pleasures of this day? whose tabernacles are these? The tabernacles of the righteous ? Ah! my brethren! wo be to you, if under pretence that the righteous ought to rejoice to day, you rejoice by adding sin to sin! The resurrection of the Saviour of the world perfectly assorts with the other parts of bis economy. It is a
spring flowing with motives to holiness. God has left nothing undone in the work of your salvation. The great work is finished. Jesus Christ completed it when he rose from the tomb. The Son hath paid the ransom. The father hath accepted it. The holy Spirit hath published it, and by innumerable prodigies hath confirmed it. None but yourselves can condemn you. Nothing can deprive you of this grace, but your own contempt of it.
But the more precious this grace is, the more criminal, and the more affronting to God, will your contempt of it be. The more joy, with which the glory of a risen Jesus ought to inspire you,
believe in him, the more terror ought you to feel, if you attempt to disobey him. He, who declared him the son of God, with power by the resurrection from the dead, put a sceptre of iron into his hand, that he might break his enemies, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel, Rom. i. 4. Psal. ii. 9. Dost thou enter into these reflections? Dost thou approach the table of Jesus Christ with determinations to live a new life? I believe so. But the grand fault of our communions, and solemn festivals, doth not lie in the precise time of our communions and solemnities. The representation of Jesus Christ in the Lord's supper ; certain reflections that move conscience; an extraordinary attention to the noblest object in religion; the solemnities that belong to our public festivals; inspire us with a kind of devotion : but how often does this devotion vanish with the objects that produced it? These august symbols should follow thee into thy warfare in the world. A voice should sound in thine ears amidst the tumult of the world ; amidst the dissipating scenes that besiege thy mind; amidst the pleasures that fascinate thine eyes : amidst the grandeur and glory whicha
thou causest to blaze around thee, and with which thou thyself, although, alas! always mortal, always a worm of the earth, always dust and ashes, art the first to be dazzled; a voice should sound in thine ears, Remember thy vows, remember thine oaths, remember thy joys.
My brethren, if you be not to-morrow, and till the next Lord's-supper-day, what you are to-day, we recal all the congratulations, all the benedictions, and all the declarations of joy, which we have addressed to you. Instead of congratulating you on your happiness in being permitted to approach God in your devotions, we will deplore your wickedness in adding perfidy and perjury to all your other crimes. Instead of benedictions and vows, we will cry, Anathema, Maranatha ; if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, 1 Cor. xvi. 22. If any man who hath kissed the Saviour betray bim, let him be Anathema. If any man' defile the mysteries of our holy religion, let him be Anathema. If any man tread under foot the son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, Let him be Anathema, Heb. x. 29. Instead of inviting thee to celebrate the praise of the author of our being, we forbid thee the practice, for it is comely ouly for the upright, Psal. xxxiii. 1. God, by our ministry, saith to thee, Thou wicked man! What hast thou to do to take my covenant in thy mouth ? Psal. 1. 16. Why doth that mouth now bless my name, and then blaspheme it: now praise me thy Creator, and then defame my creatures : now publish my gospel, and then profane it?
If, on the contrary, you live agreeably to the engagements into which you have entered to-day; what a day, what a day, my brethren, is this day? A day in which you have performed the great work,