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that he was “ with the rich in his and that he was worthy of all hodeath.” It was not the will of God nour, affection, and respect. Pithat his dear Son should be buried late, by granting the body, showed in that disgraceful manner which' that he thought our Lord an innohis enemies intended; though a cent person, as he had repeatedly grave was appointed for him with testified; and Nicodemus, who the wicked, yet this appointment came with a costly present of was overruled by the providence of spices to embalm the body, deGod, who raised up one rich and clared the high regard which he honourable person to provide the had for the crucified Redeemer. tomb, and another to assist him in Every .circumstance in our Lord's the funeral of our blessed Re- burial was honourable to him, and deemer.
all together were a testimony that The reason of this honourable " he had done no violence, neither funeral of the Lord Jesus seems to was any deceit in his mouth.” Thus be added by the Prophet : it was Jesus, though he died as a male“ because he had done no violence, factor, was buried as one who had neither was any deceit in his done nothing amiss; he was laid in mouth.” Jesus had not only done a new tomb where no man had been nothing worthy of death, but his laid before, as a mark of peculiar very nature was without spot of sin. respect to him, and as some testiHe was not only righteous in the mony to the holiness and innocence eye of the law, but perfectly so in of his sacred character. the sight of his heavenly Father; The grave is the house appointed and therefore, when he suffered for for all living: it was fit that Jesus us sinners, it was fit that it should should be honourably interred, and be understood, that he himself was it is proper that the survivors of not a sinner, and that he should lie departed friends should provide for under no farther disgrace than what their decent interment so far as was absolutely necessary in making circumstances will permit. But atonement for sin. Now, when Je with regard to our bodies, it matsus spake these memorable words, ters not whether they lie in com“ It is finished !" and immediately mon graves, or in costly sepulafter expired on the cross, he had chres; wherever they lie, " the suffered all that was necessary to worm shall feed sweetly on them," niake that atonement; and, there and therefore we need not be fore, though his body was to be anxious in this matter. But that laid in the grave (which is part of we may be anxiously concerned the original sentence denounced about our immortal souls! Where against sin), yet it was to be in shall they be when our bodies are terred with no marks of disgrace, laid in the grave? Shall they be but, on the contrary, with tokens of with the wicked, or shall they be honour, respect, and affection. His with Jesus? What is our present being hononrably buried was some state? For, according to our chatestimony, that he had done no racter here will be our portion hereviolence, neither was any deceit in after. We know not how soon the his month," as it evidently showed grave may be opened to receive what the true judgment of unpre- our bodies; 0 then that we may judiced persons was concerning live as dying men in a dying world! him. Joseph of Arimathea, by Can we think of this, and waste going to Pilate to request the body our precious time, be' unconcerned of Jesus, and then burying it with about our future state, and trifle honour in his own tomb, testified with our inimortal souls?. Is any that in his judgment Jesus had been one living at a distance from God, unjustly condemned and executed, without faith in Christ, and uncon
cerned about his soul? Let him my father : to the worm, Thou art think where his everlasting portion my mother and my sister.” Job, must be if he dies in that state : xvii. 13, 14. But grace teaches his grave will be made with the the believer to triumph over death wicked; and not only his grave, and the grave, and to say with the but his everlasting state beyond the Apostle, “ O death, where is thy grave. It was the prayer of Da- sting? O grave, where is thy yicvid, *Gather not my soul with tory? The sting of death is sin; sinners," Psalm xxvi. 9; but if the and the strength of sin is the law. soul would not be gathered with But thanks be to God, which sinners hereafter, it must be sepa- giveth us the victory through our rated from them here by divine Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. xv. 55 grace, for no unconverted sinner -57. If Christ be with us, we can look forward to the grave with need not fear death and the grave. comfort or with hope. Yet this is When Jesus lay in it, his flesh rested the end of all men, whether they in hope; “ his soul was not left in think of it or not; the worldly man hell, neither did his flesh see cormay turn his thoughts from the ruption.” Acts, ii. 31. And if subject, and seek by business or we have a true and lively faith in pleasure to put it out of his mind, him, our flesh shall also rest in but he cannot put off the hour when hope; and though our bodies must his body shall return to the dust, see corruption, yet they shall be nor look forward to that hour with raised again incorruptible, and any comfort, until his heart is re this corruptible shall put on incornewed by the grace of God, and he ruption, and this mortal shall put is made a new creature in Christ on immortality.” 1 Cor. xv. 53. Jesus.
son ... We need not, therefore, be anx.. But when the soul is truly con- ious about our mortal bodies, but verted to God the grave will lose it should be our heart's desire and its terrors, for Jesus has sanctified prayer that our souls may be found it to his people by lying in it him- in Christ; - that we may"66 win self. There is not a more consol. Christ and be found in him;" that ing thought to the believer in Jesus we may be raised from the death of when looking forward to death and sin unto the life of righteousness, the grave than this, that Jesus him- and walk by faith and not by self lay therein; that he not only sight,“ looking not at the things died for us upon the cross, but that which are seen, but at the things he lay for us in the grave, and by which are not seen: for the things his lying there that he has sanctified which are seen are temporal, but the grave to all believers. The the things which are not seen are dying Christian may say, It is eternal” (2 Cor. iv. 18): that we true I am going to the grave, for be separated by grace from the unthat is the house appointed for all godly here, that we may not have living; but it is the house where our everlasting portion with them Jesus lay himself, and I trust he hereafter; and above all, that our will be with me when I am laid in hope of everlasting life beyond the the grave, that he will receive my grave be founded only on what soul when separated from the body, Christ our Saviour has done and and watch over my scattered dust suffered for us, whilst we are foland raise it again at the last day. lowers of Him who did « no vioNature, indeed, shrinks back at lence, neither was any deceit in his the thought. “ If I wait,” said mouth.” So shall we have a good Job, “ the grave is my house : I hope through grace, that our sins have made my bed in the darkness. being laid on him upon the cross, I have said to corruption, Thou art are buried with him in the grave, AVQUST 1823.
and that we being raised to new- raised up Christ from the dead, ness of life by his grace here, shall shall also quicken your mortal bobe raised by his power to everlast- dies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in ing glory hereafter. For, “ if the you.” Rom. viii. 11. Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus
LITOREUS. from the dead dwell in you, He that
FAMILY SERMON. Acts, ix. 31. — Then had the render this subject peculiarly ap· churches rest throughout all Ju- propriate, and capable of yielding · dea, and Galilee, and Samaria, us much profitable instruction. In · and were edified; and walking order that we may learn our own
in the fear of the Lord, and in duty, let us notice, the comfort of the Holy Ghost, I. THE OUTWARD CIRCUMwere multiplied.
STANCES of the Christian Church, The church of Christ on earth at the period here described; and, may be compared to a company. II. THE SPIRITUAL IMPROVEof travellers who have to pursue MENT which was made of these their journey under a changeable circumstances. sky, and amidst every variety of I. We are to notice the OUTseasons and weather. At one time WARD CIRCUMSTANCES of the prithey are assailed by the pelting mitive Christians, at the time to storms of persecution; at another which my text refers. “ Then had they enjoy the , calm sunshine of the churches rest throughout all peace and prosperity. Yet amidst Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria.” all these vicissitudes they are not A church, in Scripture language, forsaken by their heavenly Guide, means a company of real believers under whose providential direction in Christ Jesus; and the expression they are walking, and by whose is applied both to the whole colspiritual grace every outward lective body of Christians throughchange is made to work for their out the world, and to every distinct good. Are they called to endure congregation. Even a single fa-. the opposition and hatred of the mily of believers is sometimes world? such a trial tends to rouse called a church. Now, through and awaken the slumbering be- the preaching of the twelve Apoliever, to quicken the loiterer, and stles, many families, many conto sbake off the multitude of fair- gregations of men, in Judea, and weather Christians, by whose in- Galilee, and Samaria, had been conconsistencies the company of true verted to the faith of Christ. They pilgrims is dishonoured. If, on the had renounced their evil ways; other hand, a time of trouble be they sought for salvation only succeeded by days of security and through faith in his atoning blood; ease to the church, this also they met together to hear the word, cometh forth from the Lord, and and to offer up supplications, praymay be made the means of help- ers, intercessions, and giving of ing forward the Christian on his thanks; and they continued steadjourney.
fastly in the Apostles doctrine and The benefits which may be de- fellowship. Thus they shined as rived by true believers from a sea- lights in a dark world, reproving son of quietness and rest,' are re- both by their doctrine and example presented in a very striking man- all who continued in unbelief. ner in my text. Our present cir- What was the immediate conseeumstances in this Christian land, quence? Many spoke evil of that way before the multitude; others, even the wrath of man to praise being men in authority, attempted him, and then restrain the reto suppress the preaching of the mainder of their wrath; He who Gospel; and at length a bitter per- kept the lions' mouths that they secution arose; in which neither should not hurt his prophet Daniel; age, nor rank, nor sex were spared. He without whom not a sparrow Such Christians as were able fled falleth to the ground, and in whose for their lives; others were cruelly sight his faithful people are of more tortured, not accepting deliverance, value than many sparrows; He it and died gloriously as martyrs to was who saw good at this time the faith of Jesus.
to check the persecutors of his One of the most active agents churches. He said, “ Hitherto in these bloody scenes obtained "shall ye come and no further, and from the Jewish rulers a special here shall your proud waves be commission, authorizing him to stayed.” Then, and therefore, had pursue the fugitive Christians into the churches rest throughout all distant countries, and give them Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria. their choice either to blaspheme The wind and the storm ceased, Christ or to suffer death. "How and there was a great calm. . . wonderful are the ways of God! It is our privilege, my Christian This very man, in the full tide of brethren, to enjoy a similar freeliis rage and fury, is suddenly ar- dom from persecution. In this our rested by a voice from heaven-be- peaceful land, the same cruelties holds Jesus standing at the right were formerly committed against hand of God-is charged with his the people of God, as those under crime-can make no defence-and which the early Christians groaned. is led away, not to execution, as he When first the true religion was had just cause to expect, but to be introduced here, it set a man at made a chosen vessel ; to bear the variance against his father, and name of Christ before the Gentiles, the daughter against her mother, and kinys, and the people of Israel. and the daughter-in-law against And now the persecutor becomes her mother-in-law; and a man's in his turn the persecuted. En- foes were those of his own houseraged at the loss of their champion, hold. Nay, the brother would deand resolved not to receive his tes. liver up his brother to death, and timony concerning Jesus, the chief the father the son. Christians were priests and rulers direct all their hated of all men, and all manner malice against St. Paul. Which of evil was spoken and done against when the brethren knew, they them for Jesus' name's sake. This, brought him down to Cæsarea, and I doubt not, was the case when sent him forth to Tarsus. . Thus Christianity first came to England. baffled and disappointed, the ene- It was the case again about three mies of the church seem for a while hundred years ago, when it pleased to have paused in their career. Per- God to give us the blessed Rehaps they were content to have got formation from Popery. It is rid of a man, who, they had reason scarcely possible for us to realize to fear, would prove å most able the fiery trials which the faithful defender of the faith which he had Christians were exposed to ir chose so zealously laboured to destroy. days, when they resisted unto Perhaps they were become weary blood, striving against the abomiof threatening and slaughter, on nations of the unchristian church. finding that the work of the Lord Now from all this we are merciwas not easily and at once to be fully delivered. True Christianity overthrown. Whatever might be is established and protected by the their motives, He who can make laws of the land. No man can be
openly persecuted, in the degree sky may soon again be overcast, and manner of which we have been and the clouds and tempests respeaking; if he be, the law pro- turn; God may shortly cease to revides full redress. His person, his strain the malice of the enemy, and life, his property, are now secure. . send among us - not peace but a What, then! is the offence of the sword. Or, what will be far more cross ceased ? is the world now re- perilous, he may be provoked by conciled to those who, by their life our love of outward ease, to give and doctrine, reprove and con- us into the hand of our spiritual demn it? No, by no means. The enemies. Too often, indeed, Chrisoriginal enmity still subsists be- tians have fallen asleep, when tween the seed of the serpent and there was no persécution to keep the seed of the woman. But, for them awake, and have slumbered a season, the providence of God on till they made shipwreck of faith has restrained the outward actings and of a good conscience. There of their enmity. He has, in this are dangers on every side. Not happy country, given his churches without reason, therefore, doth our rest from all their enemies round Church instruct us to pray, in all about. The storms of persecution time of our tribulation, in all time have subsided; and the Christians of our wealth, “ Good Lord, deof England have been for many liver us!” years in a state of outward rest and But, as every state has its pecupeace, resembling that of the Ju- liar snares, so are there also spedean, Galilean, and Samaritan cial advantages to be derived both churches.
from times of suffering and from · Perhaps also, o believer, thou times of peace. It will, therefore, hast at this time rest from that more be instructive to notice, tolerable persecution which has II. The SPIRITUAL IMPROVEoften assailed thee among thy MENT which the early Christians neighbours; the scourge of the made of their freedom from persetongue, hard names, injurious re- cution. My text informs us, that ports, bitter revilings, perverse dis- when the churches had rest, they putings of men of corrupt minds were edified; and walking in the and destitute of the truth : the en- fear of the Lord, and in the confort mity of the carnal mind will never of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. indeed be wholly silent, if thou be 1. First we are told, in a genefaithful and consistent, reproving ral way, that they were edified. its deeds, and setting it the ex- This expression is taken from the ample of a more excellent way. art of building; and it agrees with Wicked men must either receive those passages of Scripture in which the truth or hate it. Nevertheless, the church of Christ is compared even this trial has perhaps to thee to a temple, built by the power of been mitigated, or even suspended God, wherein spiritual sacrifices for a season. Thy neighbours, thy of praise and thanksgiving are conrelations, or thy superiors, have tinually offered up to him. In perhaps been influenced to acknow other places, the church is called a ledge thy sincerity, and to let thee house, in which God by his Spirit go on thy way in quietness. Well, delights to dwell. And what is remember to see the hand of God said of the church at large, is true in this. Let not thy present out of each individual member thereof. ward peace make thee careless and Every broken and contrite heart is slothful. Do not lie down and God's temple; every renewed soul bask in the sunshine, which is is his habitation. The work of digiven to cheer thee on thy journey. vide grace begins to be builded, This is not thy place of rest. The when the sinner is brought to see his