Puslapio vaizdai

omnipotent arm doth interpose, which gives laws unto it, who dares to say, that the creature may be brought to such a state of dissolution, as may outreach the dominion of the Almighty Creator?

Upon these grounds it is, that the Apostle asketh, why it should be thought a strange and incredible thing, that God should ruise the dead : Acts xxvi. 8; and, in the text, that he asserts the resurrection of Christ. And, to prevent any fallacious cavils against it, he shews,

First. That God raised him from the dead; and therefore it was not to be accounted a thing impossible, since to God nothing could imply a contradiction.

Secondly. He doth not only assert the possibility of Christ's resurrection, but the impossibility of his final continuance under the power of death.

The grave, which grasps and retains all other mortals, was not able to detain him who hath immortality and life dwelling in himself: It was not possible that he should be holden of it; there. fore God hath raised him up, loosing the pains of death.

Whom God raised up. Here is the efficient cause of Christ's resurrection, in the concurrent action of the whole Trinity; for all, that God doth out of himself, is aseribed to all the Three Persons. Sometimes, it is ascribed to the Father: as the Apostle speaks; The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus ; whom ye

delivered up, and denied.....the Holy One, and the Just, desiring a murderer......and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead : Acts iii. 13, 14, 15. Sometimes, it is ascribed to the Son, who, by the infinite power of his divinity, raised up his human nature from the grave: so our Saviour himself tells us, I lay down my life of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again : John X. 18. The same may be collected of the Holy Ghost, from the words of the Apostle: 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 : Rom. viii. 11: now if the Spirit of God can quicken our bodies, the same Spirit also can quicken the body of Christ ; since it is the same Spirit that quickens both the Head and the Members.

Having loosed the pains of death. In some copies it is, Having loosed the pains of hell : which, possibly, gave occasion to that fond opinion of some, that Christ descended into hell, and there

underwent the pains and penalties of that infernal place, as full satisfaction to the justice of God; and that these were the pains, from which God raised or loosed him in his resurrection. But this conceit is erroneous and extravagant, and deserves no serious confutation; especially because it plainly contradicts Christ's consummatum est upon the cross; for, when Christ had undergone his sufferings on the cross he said, It is finished, and so..... gave up the ghost : John xix. 30. If Christ therefore did undergo any farther sufferings and pains, than those sufferings which he underwent on the cross, those sufferings would have been so far from being completed and finished, that they would have been but the præludium, and beginning of his sorrows. Having loosed the pains of death implies no more, but that God raised Jesus Christ from the death, which, after many dolorous pains, he suffered.

It follows: It was not possible that he should be holden of it.

This is that on which I intend principally to insist.

I. And, here, I shall shew UPON WHAT ACCOUNTS IT WAS ALTOGETHER IMPOSSIBLE FOR CHRIST TO BE DETAINED UNDER THE POWER OF DEATH: and my arguments for the proof hereof are these that follow,


There are Three Unions, the belief of which is the foundation of the greatest part of the Christiav Religion, and which are wholly beyond the reach of reason : the mystical union of a believer unto Christ: the union, or rather unity, of the Three Glorious Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in one nature: and this hypostatical union of two natures in one person, in the Mediator. It is a mystery, which angels pry

into and adore, with wonder and astonishment, how the eternal, only-begotten Son of God should assume flesh to himself, in so close and intimate a conjunction, that, though he be eternal, yet he should be born ; though he be immortal, yet he should truly die; and though he were truly dead, yet he should raise himself to life again. These are things, which seem very in, consistent one with another; yet they truly come to pass through this miraculous union, which transcends the reach of reason, as

far as these things do that of nature: that the same person, who is eternal, should be young, yea be born in the fulness of time; that the same person, who hath immortality and life dwelling in himself, should also die a shameful and accursed death; that the same person, who was truly and really dead, yet had a power to quicken and recover himself: John x. 18. And this was it, which declared him to be the Son of God with power, as the Apostle speaks, even by his resurrection froin the dead : Rom. i. 4. "And, indeed, if he had not risen from the dead, the Deity would have suffered in the opinion of the world; nor would they have believed him to be the Son of God, who would suffer himself to lie under the dominion of death, longer than the end of his death required it.

And this I shall demonstrate to you by Two arguments : only premising this, which is a common and true maxim among divines; That when the natural union between Christ's body and soul was dissolved, yet both soul and body did retain the hypostatical union to the divine nature : the divine nature was united to the body of Christ, when the soul was separated from it.

1. If Christ could not have raised himself, it must have been either from a Want of Power, or from a Want of Will, to do it.

He could not want Power to raise himself, because he was God; equal in power, and in all other divine attributes, with the Father.

As the resurrection of the dead is not impossible to the infinite power of God; so neither can it be, that that God, who had a will to assume our flesh, should want a Will to raise it up: that that God, who so loved the human nature, as to associate it into oneness of person with himself, should yet suffer it to continue under the power of death; which is, of all things, most contrary to his natural inclinations. We see Christ, in his agony, prayed most fervently that the bitter cup might pass from him, insomuch that he strained clotted blood through him: and, certainly, one ingredient in that cup was the separation of soul and body by death ; which is that, which even innocent nature itself abhorred, as destructive to him; yet, having taken our nature upon him for this very end, that, by death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil: Heb. ii. 14, he voluntarily submitted himself to undergo it; and, this end being fully accomplished by his death, and the truth of his death

[ocr errors]

likewise attested by his lying three days in the earth, it was altogether impossible that that person, who had an abhorrence of death and a power to raise himself, should continue longer under the arrest and dominion of it.

And this is the First demonstration of the necessity of the resurrection of Christ, upon the account of both natures in one person: as man, he abhorred the separation of soul and body; as God, he was able to re-unite them: so that having, as man, a desire to live, and, as God, a power to live, it was impossible for him to be holden of death.

2. Because of the union of the divine and human nature in the person of Christ, it was impossible that his Flesh should see Corruption ; which yet it must certainly have done, had he not been raised in a short space after his death.

For, since Christ's body was not a phantastical body, as some of old held, but made of true flesh, and of the same temper and constitution with ours, it must, without a miracle, have undergone such changes after death as ours shall do: and, to imagine the contrary, is but to feign one miracle, to avoid the necessity of another; even of the Resurrection. But, it was utterly impossible that that body, which was united to both natures by so close and unconceivable a bond, should ever see corruption; that is, a putrefaction in the grave: this the Scripture clearly asserts to us : Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption : Acts ii. 27. And, also, because all bodies, which are corrupted, turn into some other thing and some other nature; according to that undoubted maxim of the philosophers, corruptio unius est generatio alterius : and so this horrid and blasphemous consequence would follow, that the divine nature of the Son of God might bave been joined to some other. So that it was necessary that Christ should be raised again, before any corruption or putrefaction, by ordinary course of nature, seized upon him.


Thus I have proved, by these two arguments, that, because of the hypostatical union of the divine and human nature of Christ in one person, it was altogether impossible he could be holden of death.

ii. Another argument is this: It was impossible that Christ should be holden of death, BECAUSE OF GOD'S VERACITY; AND THE TRUTH OF THOSE PREDICTIONS, WHICH WERE BEFORE MADE

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

CONCERNING CHRIST, in those many types and prophecies of the Old Testament; all which God's faithfulness stood engaged to falfil.

I shall only mention that famous prediction, which St. Peter here subjoins, as a proof of the subject I am now treating upon : Acts ïi. 24, 25, 27. It was not possible, says he, that Christ should be holden of death: For, saith the Apostle, David speaketh concerning him.... Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. And this prophecy the Apostle quotes out of the ' Psalmist : Psal. xvi. 10. That it did not belong to David, and that he did not speak it concerning himself when he indited that Psalm, the Apostle shews, vy. 29, 30, of this chapter : where he proves that David was dead and buried, and underwent the common lot that all other dead bodies did, putrefying and mouldering away in the earth; and therefore he was not that Holy One that should never see corruption, because that prophecy must belong to such an one who must so taste of death: and this is clearly implied in the former expression, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, that is, in the state of the dead; for so is hell to be understood there, as I shall shew more at large. Neither could it belong to any of those, who, before Christ, were raised miraculously from the dead, and brought back out of the state of death; yet was it not in such a manner, that they were not to return again to it: so that if they did not in the first, yet in their second dying they saw corruption. This then could belong to none of them, and therefore must of necessity belong to Christ.

And since the Apostle lays so much stress on this argument, give me leave a little to consider the meaning of it, and how it is applicable to Him.

And, here, I shall not trouble you with the various opinions of those, who have attempted to interpret these words, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell: some thinking, that, by this hell, into which Christ descended, is meant the place of the damned, where he preached the Gospel to them, freeing those that would believe from their pains : others, that it was one great partition of it, called Limbus Patrum; “the repository of the souls of those Fathers" who died in obedience to God and in faith of the Messiah, before Christ came in the flesh; and that the reason of liis descent thither was, that he might release those souls from chains, and carry them with him to heaven; so that, ever since,

« AnkstesnisTęsti »