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“Now is come salvation and strength, and the is the fear of falling back into nothing, which kingdom of our God, and the power of his the prospect of death awakens. The greatest Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast of all the advantages which we possess, and down, which accused them before our God day that which indeed is the foundation of all the and night. And they overcame him by the rest, is existence. We accordingly observe blood of the Lamb," Rev. xii. 10, 11. Let us, that old people, though all their faculties are however, reduce our reflections on the subject much impaired, always enjoy a certain nameto method. Three considerations render death less superiority over young persons. The reformidable to man; three considerations disarm flection that there was a time when they exdeath in the apprehension of the Christian; isted, while as yet the young did not exist, 1. The veil which conceals from the eyes of constitutes this superiority; and young persons, the dying person, the state on which he is in their turn, feel a superiority suggested to about to enter: 2. The remorse of conscience them by the thought, that a time is coming which the recollection of his guilt excites: 3. when they shall exist, whereas the others shall The loss of titles, honours, and every other be no more. Death terminates, to appearance, earthly possession. In these respects chiefly, an advantage which is the foundation of every "he who has the power of death subjects men other. And is it any wonder that the heart of to bondage:” these are the things which ren- man should sink under such a consideration? der death formidable.
In vain will we flee for refuge from this deIn opposition to this, the death of Jesus pressing reflection, to the arguments which Christ, 1. Removes the veil which concealed reason, even a well-directed reason, supplies. futurity from us, and constitutes an authentic If they are satisfying of themselves, and calproof of the immortality of the soul: 2. The culated to impress the philosophic mind, they death of Jesus Christ is a sacrifice presented to are far beyond the reach of a vulgar underdivine justice for the remission of our sins: 3. standing, to which the very terms spirituality The death of Jesus Christ gives us complete and existence are barbarous and unintelligible. assurance of a blessed eternity. These are the To no purpose will we have recourse to what three considerations which disarm death in the has been said on this subject, by the most enapprehension of the dying believer. And this lightened of the pagan world, and to what, in is a brief abstract of the important truths deli- particular, Tacitus relates of Seneca, * on his vered in this text.
going into the bath which was to receive the The devil renders death formidable, through blood, as it streamed from his opened veins: he uncertainty respecting the nature of our souls; besprinkled the bystanders with the fluid in the death of Christ dispels that terror, by de- which his limbs were immerged, with this memonstrating to us that the soul is immortal. morable expression, that he presented those The devil renders death formidable by awaken- drops of water as a libation to Jupiter the Deing the recollection of past guilt; the death of liverer. In order to secure us against terrors Jesus Christ restores confidence and joy, for it so formidable, we must have a guide more safe is the expiation of all our sins. The devil than our own reason. In order to obtain a perclothes death with terror, by rendering us sen- suasion of the immortality of the soul, we sible to the loss of those possessions of which must have a security less suspicious than that death is going to deprive us; the death of Jesus of a Socrates or a Plato. Now that guide, Christ tranquillizes the mind, because it is a my brethren, is the cross of Jesus Christ: that pledge to us of an eternal felicity. The first security is an expiring Redeemer. Two prinof these ideas represents Jesus Christ to us as ciples concur in the demonstration of all-ima martyr, who has sealed with his own blood a portant truth. doctrine which rests entirely on the immortali- 1. The doctrine of Jesus Christ establishes ty of the soul. The second represents him as the immortality of the soul. a victim, offering himself in our stead, to di- 2. The death of Jesus Christ is an irresistivine justice. And the third represents him as ble proof of the truth of his doctrine. a conqueror, who has, by his death, acquired 1. That the doctrine of Jesus Christ estabfor us a kingdom of everlasting bliss.
lishes the immortality of the soul is a point Had we nothing farther in view, than to pre- which no one pretends to dispute with us. A sent you with vague ideas of the sentiments of man has but to open his eyes in order to be the sacred authors, on this subject, here our convinced of it. We shall, accordingly, make discourse might be concluded. But these but a single remark on this head. It is this, truths, treated thus generally, could make but that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul a slight impression. It is of importance to ought not to be considered merely as a particupress them one by one, and, opposing in every lar point of the religion of Jesus Christ, indeparticular, the triumph of the Redeemer, to pendent of which it may subsist as a complete the empire of the wicked one, to place in its whole. It is a point without which Christianity clearest point of light, the interesting truth cannot exist at all, and separated from which contained in our text, namely, that Jesus Christ, the religion of Jesus Christ, the fullest, the “through his own death, has destroyed him most complete, and the most consistent that who had the power of death, that is, the devil; ever was presented to the world, becomes the that he might deliver them who, through fear most imperfect, barren, and inconsistent. The of death, were all their life-time subject to whole fabric of the gospel rests on this foundabondage.”
tion, that the soul is immortal. Wherefore I. The first consideration which renders was it that Jesus Christ, the Lord of universal death formidable: the first yoke imposed on nature, had a manger for his cradle, and a stathe necks of the children of men, by that treinendous prince who“ has the power of death,"
* Annal, Lib. xv.
ble for his palace? because his “kingdom was for his return to the light. You feel the force not of this world,” John xviii. 16. This sup- of this argument. Jesus Christ, having died in poses the immortality of the soul. Wherefore support of the truth of a doctrine entirely foundis the Christian encouraged to bid defiance to ed on the supposition of the immortality of the tyrants, who may drag him from a prison, from soul, there is no longer room to doubt whether a dungeon, who may nail him to a cross, who the soul be immortal. may mangle his body on a wheel? It is because
Let us here pause for a few moments, and their power extends no farther than to the before we enter on the second branch of our “killing of the body,” Matt. x. 28, while the subject, let us consider how far this position, so soul is placed far beyond their reach. This clearly proved, so firmly established, has a tensupposes immortality. Wherefore must the dency to fortify us against the fears of death. Christian deem himself miserable, were he to Suppose for an instant that we knew nothing achieve the conquest of the whole world, at respecting the state of souls, after this life is the expense of a good conscience? Because it closed, and respecting the economy on which we will "profit a man nothing to gain the whole must then enter; supposing God to have granted world, if he lose his own soul,” Matt. xvi. 26. us no revelation whatever on this interesting This supposes immortality. Wherefore are we article, but simply this, that our souls are imnot the most miserable of all creatures Be- mortal, a slight degree of meditation on the
we have hope in Christ not for this life case, as thus stated, ought to operate as an inonly," I Cor. xv. 19. This supposes immor- ducement rather to wish for death, than to fear tality. The doctrine of Jesus Christ, therefore, it. It appears probable that the soul, when establishes the truth of the immortality of the disengaged from the senses, in which it is now soul.
enveloped, will subsist in a manner infinitely 2. But we said, in the second place, that the more noble than it could do here below, during death of Jesus Christ is a proof of his doctrine. its union with matter. We are perfectly conHe referred the world to his death, as a sign by vinced that the body will, one day, contribute which it might be ascertained whether or not greatly to our felicity; it is an essential part of he came from God. By this he proposed to our being, without which our happiness must stop the mouth of incredulity. Neither the be incomplete. But this necessity, which fetpurity of his life, nor the sanctity of his deport- ters down the functions of the soul, on this ment, nor the lustre of his miracles had as yet earth, to the irregular movements of ill-assortprevailed so far as to convince an unbelieving ed matter, is a real bondage. The soul is a world of the truth of his mission. They must prisoner in this body. A prisoner is a man sushave sign upon sign, prodigy upon prodigy. ceptible of a thousand delights, but who can Jesus Christ restricts himself to one: " Destroy enjoy, however, only such pleasures as are comthis temple, and within three days I will build patible with the extent of the place in which it up again," Mark xiv. 58. An evil and he is shut up: his scope is limited to the capaadulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and city of his dungeon: he beholds the light only there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign through the aperture of that dungeon: all his of the prophet Jonas,” Matt. xii. 39. This intercourse is confined to the persons who apsign could not labour under any ambiguity. proach his dungeon. But let his prison-doors And this sign was accomplished. There is no be thrown open; from that moment, behold him longer room to doubt of a truth demonstrated in a state of much higher felicity. Thenceforin a manner so illustrious.
ward he can maintain social intercourse with Our ancestors devised, * with greater simpli- | all the men in the world; thenceforward he city, it must be allowed, than strength of rea- can contemplate an unbounded body of light; soning, a very singular proof of the innocence thenceforward he is able to expatiate over the of persons accused. They presented to them a spacious universe. bar of hot iron. If the person under trial had This exhibits a portrait of the soul. A prithe firmness to grasp it, and received no injury soner to the senses, it can enjoy those delights from the action of the burning metal, he was only which have a reference to sense. It can acquitted of the charge. This proof was, as see only by means of the cuticles and the fibres we have said, devised with more simplicity than of its eyes: it can hear only by means of the acstrength of reasoning: no one having a right to tion of the nerves and tympanum of its ears: it suppose that God will perform a miracle, to can think only in conformity to certain modifievince his innocence to the conviction of his cations of its brain. The soul is susceptible of judges. I acknowledge at the same time, that a thousand pleasures, of which it has not so had I been an eye-witness of such an experi- much as the idea. A blind man has a soul cament; had I beheld that element which dis- pable of admitting the sensation of light; if he solves, which devours bodies the most obdurate, be deprived of it, the reason is, his senses are respecting the hand of a person accused of a defective, or improperly disposed. Our souls crime, I should certainly have been very much are susceptible of a thousand unknown sensastruck at the sight of such a spectacle. tions; but they receive them not, in this econo
But what shall we say of the Saviour of the my of imperfection and wretchedness, because world, after the proof to which he was put it is the will of God that they should perceive He “walked through the fire without being only through the medium of those organs, and burnt," Isa. xliii. 2. He descended into the that those organs, from their limited nature, bosom of the grave: the grave respected him, should be capable of admitting only limited and those other insatiables which never say “it sensations. is enough,” Prov. xxx. 16, opened a passage But permit the soul to expatiate at large, let
it take its natural flight, let these prison walls * Rasquier Recher, de la France, liv. iv. 2. be broken down, 0, then the soul becomes
ON THE FEAR OF DEATH. capable of ten thousand inconceivable new de- | . II. In the second place, to dissipate the lights. Wherefore do you point to that ghastly dreadful apprehension which a guilty concorpse? Wherefore deplore those eyes closed to science awakens in the prospect of judgment the light, those spirits evaporated, that blood to come. Having considered Jesus Christ as a frozen in the veins, that motionless, lifeless martyr, who sealed with his own blood the docmass of corruption? Why do you say to me, trine which he preached, and his death as an "My friend, my father, my spouse is no more; argument in support of the immortality of the he sees
, he hears, he acts no longer.” He sees soul taught in that doctrine; let us contemplate no longer, do you say? He sees no longer, I our divine Saviour as a victim, which God has grant, by means of those visual rays which substituted in our place, and his death as a were formed in the retina of the eye; but he sacrifice offered up to divine justice, for the exsees as do those pure intelligences which never piation of our offences. were clothed with mortal flesh and blood. He One of the principal dangers to be avoided hears no more through the medium of the ac- in controversies, and particularly in that which tion of the ethereal fluid, but he hears as a pure we are going to handle, is to imagine that all spirit. He thinks no longer through the inter- arguments are of equal force. Extreme care vention of the fibres of his brain; but he thinks must be taken to assign to each its true limits, from his own essence, because, being a spirit, and to say, this argument proves thus far, that the faculty of thought is essential to him, and other goes so much farther. We must thus inseparable from his nature.
advance step by step up to truth, and form, of
those arguments united, a demonstration so
much the more satisfactory, in proportion as
that they could in reason ask. On this princi-
ple we divide our arguments into two classes.
The first we propose only as presumptions in
favour of the doctrine of the satisfaction. To
of demonstration. Of the first class are the
flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took tive argument in support of the doctrine which
In discoursing from these words, we observed, this is one of the mysteries which are infinitely that death is rendered formidable to man, by a beyond the reach of human understanding. It threefold consideration, and that three conside- is one of “the things which eye hath not seen, rations of an opposite nature strip him of all nor ear heard, neither have entered into the his terrors, in the eye of the believer in Christ heart of man,” i Cor. ii. 9. But we say that Jesus. Death is formidable, 1. Because of the this mystery presents nothing that shocks huveil which conceals from the eyes of the dying man reason, or that implies a shadow of conperson, that state on which he is about to tradiction. What do we believe? That God enter.
2. From remorse of conscience, which has united the human nature to the divine, in the recollection of past guilt excites. 3. From the person of Jesus Christ, in a manner somethe loss of titles, honours, and all other earthly what resembling that in which he has united possessions.
the body to the soul, in the person of man. In opposition to these, the death of Christ, We say that this composition (pardon the ex1. Removes the veil which conceals futurity, pression,) this composition of Humanity and and constitutes an authentic proof of the im- of Deity suffered in what was human of it; and mortality of the soul. 2. It is a sacrifice pre- that what was divine gave value to the suffersented to divine justice for the remission of sin. | ings of the man, somewhat after the manner 3. It gives us complete assurance of a blessed in which we put respect on a human body, not eternity. These are the considerations which as a material substance, but as united to an disarm death of his terrors to the dying believer. intelligent soul.
We have finished what was proposed on the These are the terms in which we propose first particular, and have shown, 1. That the our mystery. And there is nothing in this doctrine of Jesus Christ fully establishes the which involves a contradiction. If we had soul's immortality; and, 2. That the death of said that the Divinity and Humanity were conJesus Christ is an irresistible proof of the truth founded or common; if we had said that of his doctrine.
Deity, who is impassible, suffered; if we had But to no purpose would it be to fortify the said that Jesus Christ as God made satisfaction mind against the apprehension of ceasing to to Jesus Christ as God, reason might have exist, unless we are delivered from the terror justly reclaimed; but we say that Jesus Christ of being for ever miserable. In vain is it to suffered as man; we say that the two natures have demonstrated that our souls are immortal, in his person were distinct; we say that Jesus if we are haunted with the well-grounded ap- Christ, suffering as a man, made satisfaction prehension of their falling into the hands of to God maintaining the rights of Deity. This that God who " is a consuming fire.” In this is the first step we advance in this career. case, what constitutes a man's greatness would Our first argument we carry thus far, and no constitute his misery. Let us endeavour, farther.
[SER. LXXX. II. Our second argument is taken from the hence those hecatombs; hence those human divine justice. We say that the idea which we victims; hence that blood which streamed on have of the divine justice presents nothing in- the altars, and so many other rites of religious consistent with the doctrine we are endeavour- worship, the existence of which no one is dising to establish, but on the contrary leads us posed to call in question. What consequence directly to adopt it. The divine justice would do we deduce from this position! The truth be in opposition to our doctrine, did we affirm of the doctrine of the atonement? No: we do that the innocent Jesus suffered as an innocent not carry our inference so far. We only conperson; but we say that he suffered, as loaded clude, that there is no room to run down the with the guilt of the whole human race. The Christian religion, if it instructs us that God divine justice would be in opposition to our demanded satisfaction to his justice, by an doctrine, did we affirm that Jesus Christ had expiatory sacrifice, before he could give an un“the iniquity of us all laid upon him," whether restrained course to his goodness. This third he would or not; but we say that he took this argument we carry thus far, and no farther. heavy load upon himself voluntarily. The di- 4. A fourth reflection hinges on the corresvine justice would be in opposition to our doc- pondence of our belief, respecting this partrine, did we affirm that Jesus Christ took on ticular, with that of every age of the Christian himself the load of human guilt, to encourage church, in uninterrupted succession, from Jesus men in the practice of sin; but we say that he Christ down to our own times. All the ages acted thus in the view of sanctifying them, by of the Christian world have, as we do, spoken procuring their pardon. The divine justice of this sacrifice. But we must not enlarge. would be in opposition to our doctrine did we Whoever wishes for complete information on affirm that Jesus Christ, in assuming the load this particular, will find a very accurate collecof our guilt, sunk under the weight of it, so tion of the testimonies of the fathers, at the that the universe, for the sake of a few guilty end of the treatise on the satisfaction, comwretches, was deprived of the most distinguish- posed by the celebrated Grotius. The doctrine ed being that could possibly exist; but we say of the atonement, therefore, is not a doctrine that Jesus Christ, in dying for us, came off of yesterday, but has been transmitted from victorious over death and the grave. The di- age to age, from Jesus Christ down to our own vine justice, therefore, presents nothing incon- times. This argument we carry thus far and sistent with the doctrine of the satisfaction. no farther.
But we go much farther, and affirm, that the Here then we have a class of arguments idea of divine justice leads directly to the doc- which, after all, we would have you to consitrine. The atonement corresponds to the de- der only as so many presumptions in favour of mands of justice. We shall not here presume the doctrine of the atonement. But surely to determine the question, whether it is possi- we are warranted to proceed thus far, at least, ble for God, consistently with his perfections, in concluding; a doctrine in which human reato pardon sin without exacting a satisfaction. son finds nothing contradictory: a doctrine Whatever advantage we might have over those which presents nothing repugnant to the diwho deny our thesis, we shall not press it on vine attributes, nay, to which the divine atthe present occasion. But, in any case, they tributes directly lead us; a doctrine perfectly must be disposed to make this concession, that conformable to the suggestions of conscience, if the wisdom of God has devised the means and to the practice of mankind in every age, of obtaining a signal satisfaction to justice, in and of every nation; a doctrine received in unison with the most illustrious display of the Christian church from the beginning till goodness; if he can give to the universe an now; a doctrine which, in all its parts, preunequivocal proof of his abhorrence of sin, in sents nothing but what is entirely worthy of the very act of pardoning the sinner; if there God, when we examine it at the tribunal of be a method to keep offenders in awe, even our own understanding: such a doctrine conwhile mercy is extended to them, it must un- tains nothing to excite our resentment, nodoubtedly be more proper to employ such a thing that we ought not to be disposed to admethod than to omit it
. This is the second mit, if we find it clearly laid down in the Scripstep we advance towards our conclusion. Our tures. second argument we carry thus far, and no Now, my brethren, we have only to open farther.
the Bible in order to find express testimonies 3. Our third consideration is taken from the to this purpose; and not only do we meet suggestions of conscience, and from the præc- with an infinite number of passages in which tice of all nations. Look at the most polished, the doctrine is clearly taught, but a multitude and at the most barbarous tribes of the human of classes of such passages. race; at nations the most idolatrous, and at 1. In the first class, we must rank all those those which have discovered the purest ideas passages which declare that Jesus Christ died on the subject of religion. Consult authors of for us. It would be no easy matter to enuthe remotest antiquity, and authors the most merate them; “I delivered unto you first of recent: transport yourself to the ancient Egyp- all,” says St. Paul in his first epistle to the tians, to the Phenicians, to the Gauls, to the Corinthians, xv. 3, " that which I also receivCarthaginians, and you will find that, in all ed, how that Christ died for our sins, according ages, and in every part of the globe, men have to the Scriptures.” “Christ also hath once expressed a belief that the Deity expected sa- suffered for sins,” says St. Peter, in his first crifices should be offered up to him: nay, not epistle general, iii. 18, "the just for the unonly sacrifices, but such as had, as far as it was just, that he might bring us to God." possible, something like a proportion to his 2. In a second class must be rankod those greatness. Hence those magnificent temples; passages which represent Jesus Christ as suf
fering the punishment which we had deserved. fice of Jesus Christ, which the Jews, to no purThe fifty-third chapter of the prophet Isaiah pose, sought for in those which Moses preturns entirely on this subject; and the apostles scribed. Now what did the Jews look for in hold the self-same language. They say ex- their sacrifices? Was it not the means of appressly that Christ " was made to be sin for peasing the Deity? If, therefore, the sacrifices us, who knew no sin,” 2 Cor. v. 21, that he of the Jews were the expiation of sin, only in was “made a curse for us,” Gal. iii. 13, that figure and in a shadow, if the sacrifice of Jesus he “bare our sins in his own body on the tree," Christ be their body and reality, does it not 1 Pet. ii. 24.
follow that Jesus Christ has really and literally, 3. In a third class must be ranked all those expiated our transgressions? To pretend that passages in which our salvation is represented the Levitical sacrifices were not offered up for as being the fruit of Christ's death. The per- the expiation of great offences, but only for sons, whose opinions we are combating, main- certain external indecencies, which rather poltain themselves on a ground which we esta- luted the flesh, than wounded the conscience, blished in a former branch of this discourse, is an attempt to maintain one error by another; namely, that the death of Jesus Christ was a for a man has only to open his eyes, to be condemonstration of the truth of his doctrine. vinced that the Levitical sacrifices were offered They say that this is the reason for which our up for offences the most atrocious; it is needsalvation is considered as the effect of that less to adduce any other evidence than the andeath. But if we are saved by the death of nual sacrifice prescribed, Lev. xvi. 21, 22, in Jesus Christ, merely because it has sealed a the offering of which, Aaron “laid both his doctrine which leads to salvation, how comes hands upon the head of the live goat, and conit then, that our salvation is nowhere ascrib- fessed over him all the iniquities of the chiled to the other parts of his ministry, which dren of Israel, and all their transgressions in contributed, no less than his death, to the con- all their sins . . . . and the goat did bear upon firmation of his doctrine? Were not the mira- him all their iniquities." cles of Jesus Christ, for example, proofs equal- 5. In a fifth class must be ranked the cirly authentic as his death was, of the truth of cumstances of the passion of Jesus Christ, and his doctrine? Whence comes it, that our salva- of his agony in the garden; that sorrow, those tion is nowhere ascribed to them? This is the fears, those agitations, those cries, those tears, very thing we are maintaining. The resurrec- that bloody sweat, those bitter complaints: tion, the ascension, the miracles were absolute- "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken ly necessary to give us assurance, that the me?" Matt. xxvi. 46. The argument derived wrath of God was appeased; but Christ's death from this will appear of still greater weight, alone was capable of producing that effect. if you support it by thus reflecting, that no You will more sensibly feel the force of this person in the universe ought to have met argument, if you attend to the connexion death with so much joy as Jesus Christ, had which our text has with what follows in the he suffered a mere ordinary death. Christ
“Wherefore in all things it behov- died with a perfect submission to the will of ed him to be made like unto his brethren; that his father, and with a fervent love to mankind. he might be a merciful and faithful high priest Christ died in the full assurance of the justice ... to make reconciliation for the sins of of his cause, and of the innocency of his life. the people.”
Christ died completely persuaded of the imIf we are saved by the death of Jesus Christ, mortality of the soul, and of the certainty of merely because that event sealed the truth of a life to come. Christ died under a complete bis doctrine, wherefore should it have been assurance of the exalted felicity which he was necessary for him to assume our flesh? Had to enjoy after death. He had come from God. he descended from heaven in the effulgence of He was returning to God. Nay, there ought to his glory; had he appeared upon Mount Zion, have been something more particular in his trisuch as he was upon Mount Sinai, in flashes umph, than in that of the generality of believof lightning, with the voice of thunder, with a Because he had “made himself of no retinue of angels; would not the truth of the reputation;" God was about “ to give him a gospel have been established infinitely better name which is above every name.” A cloud than by the death of a man? Wherefore, then, was going to serve him as a triumphal car, was it necessary that Christ should die? It was and the church triumphant was preparing to because the victim of our transgressions must receive him with acclamations of joy, "Lift be put to death. This is St. Paul's reasoning up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, And for this reason it is that our salvation is ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory nowhere ascribed to the death of the martyrs, shall come in," Ps. xxiv. 7. though the death of the martyrs was, like that What then, are we to expect that Jesus of Jesus Christ, a proof of the truth of the Christ shall do? Shall we behold him advancgospel.
ing to meet death with joy? Shall he not say 4. In a fourth class, must be ranked all with St. Paul, “My desire is to depart? Shail those passages which represent the death of he not in rapture exclaim, "This day crowns Jesus Christ as the body and the reality, of are to be distributed, and I go to receive my which all the sacrifices prescribed by the law share?" No, Jesus Christ trembles, he turns were but the figure and the shadow. We pale, he fears, he sweats great drops of blood: shall select a single one out of a multitude. whereas the martyrs, with inferior illuminaThe greatest part of the Epistle to the He- tion, with feebler motives, have braved death, brews may be quoted to this effect. It is evi- have bidden defiance to the most horrid tordont that the great object of its author is to ments, have filled their tormentors with astonengago Christians to look for that in the sacri- ishment. Whence comes this difference? From