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that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” Rom. viii. 28. And is not this a sweet fruit to a believer's spiritual taste?
Fourthly, The powerful and glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, is most sweet and delightful to the true believer.
That Christ was raised up from death, is beyond controversy.
" Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible he should be holden of it,” Acts ii. 24. “ Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead,” Acts xvii. 31.
" And declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead,” Rom. i. 4.
This resurrection of Christ from the dead can be no other than sweet to all true believers, and that on a threefold account.
1. As it is God the Father's actual discharge to Christ, the public head and representative of God's elect; and to them, in him, from that sin of theirs which he, as their surety, stood charged with; and from the whole of that debt which he undertook to pay for them.
As Christ's active and passive obedience was the full payment of believers' debts to God, so God's raising him from death was God's actual discharge
to his Son, and, in him, to all elect believers; to assure them that the debt which Christ his Son undertook to pay for them is now fully paid and satisfied: witness his actual release and discharge from the prison of the grave, where Christ, as undertaker and surety for God's elect, was detained until the justice of his Father said, 'It is enough: I am now satisfied to the full; every iota and tittle of the law is by him perfectly obeyed, both actively and passively. I have no more to lay to his, or the elect's charge, for whom he became a surety. Discharge him; let him be set at liberty. As Christ the Son proved faithful to the Father in performing to the utmost what he had undertaken for securing the Father's glory, and the salvation of the elect committed and given in charge to him by the Father; so God the Father proves just and righteous to Christ in giving him, under the hand of his unerring Spirit of truth, a full release and general discharge, not only for himself, but for his redeemed ones also. Of this Christ had not the least doubt when he struck hands with his Father: he knew his father to be the God of truth, who could not lie or deal unjustly with less with his own, only Son, who, he could not but know, would stick at nothing, though it were to empty himself, and to become nothing; and, which was worse, to be made a curse, to finish the work his Father had given him to do: “ For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded : therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I
know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me: who will contend with me? Let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me," Isaiah 1. 7, 8.
What was of old predicted by this evangelical prophet concerning God the Father's justifying his Son, upon his finishing the work he had undertaken to go through, is now declared, and made known by the gospel to be actually accomplished and made good, according to those, and other the like, predictions of him. “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was, John xvii. 4, 5. “ All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth,” Matt. xxviii. 18.
“ Him hath God exalted with his right-hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins,” Acts v. 31. without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,” &c. 1 Tim. iii. 16.
Let the believer, who either hears or reads this, concerning Christ's being raised from the dead, but seriously weigh and consider of how great concern this act of God's releasing Christ is to secure and strengthen the foundation of the believer's comfort and assurance, and he will find that, the oftener he chews this cud by serious meditation, accompanied with fervent prayer to the throne of grace, the sweeter this fruit will be to his taste.
How comes it to pass, that some poor 'tempted believers do often hear and read of God's having raised Christ his Son from the dead, and yet they hear and read it as if they themselves were no way concerned in it? It is as a dry chip to them; they taste no sweetness in it.' The reason thereof is, they do not consider, neither can they believe, that God, in raising his Son from the dead, hath actually declared from heaven, that he is now actually reconciled to, and at an everlasting peace with, all believers; with the poorest and weakest, as well as with the strongest believer. And, therefore, the sure and only way for a poor, weak, tempted believer, to relish and taste the sweetness of this fruit, is to act faith on the resurrection of Christ, appropriating the virtue and merit thereof unto himself thus : ' And hath God indeed raised up
his Son Jesus Christ from the dead? and that, as he was the surety and representative of all the elect, it was God's design, in raising him, to give a public testimony to that satisfaction which he himself received at the hands of Christ in behalf of God's elect: why, then, most.certain it is, none but liars against God can deny it, that no sins of God's elect remain unsatisfied for ; which had they not been, the just and righteous God would never have suffered their surety to have so much as peeped out of his prison, the grave, in which he, that ever-blessed One, lay confined, until God's time of discharging him, according to promise,
What reason, then, canst thou shew, O my
drooping, desponding soul! why thou shouldest fear an arrest from God for those sins for which Christ, thy surety, was already arrested and committed; and from which also he was actually acquitted and legally discharged by that great God against whom thy sins were committed, whereof his glorious and powerful resurrection from the dead is a full and convincing proof? See and consider how the Holy Ghost argues in the behalf of God's elect: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again; who is even at the right-hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us." Rom. viii. 33, 34.
The interrogation or question here put implies a strong negation; and the plain English or meaning of it is, that in vain is it for an enemy of God's elect to bring before God any bill of indictment or accusation for sin against any of God's elect. The argument whereby this is enforced is twofold. 1. God's own act, already past.
“ It is God that justifieth;” he against whom sin bath been committed, and who alone hath the right and power to forgive it: he hath, on full satisfaction given to his justice by the surety of his elect, pardoned the sins of all the elect, who are now virtually pardoned and justified, in that justification passed on Christ, their public head and representative.