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and can we suppose the compassionate heart of Jesus will feel less for us, when we call upon him for the salvation of our immortal souls ! One in. stance more must be mentioned. When he was hanging upon the cross, between two malefactors, and when there seemed to be the least encouragement to call upon him as a Saviour, one of the sufferers, whose heart God had touched with compunction, called upon him, and said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom:" he called not upon him in vain ; Christ immediately and graciously answered, “ This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” O, then, with what confidence may we call upon him, and rely upon him; and unite with the apostle in saying, “ I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." Each of us has an immortal soul; what have we done with it? To whom was it offered? How was it employed? In the service of Christ, or of Satan? Have we committed it to Christ for salvation ? He will receive it; he will keep it; he will be faithful to his trust. Well then, let each of us resolve—“I will call upon him, as long as I live."
Now unto Him, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, the one God of our salvation, be glory in all the churches, now and for evermore. Amen.
THE SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION.
John, v. 25. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now
is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God : and they that bear shall live,
T H AT is true religion? This is a question, in
W the decision of which every person is deeply interested. True religion is more than a form of sound words ; more than a scriptural mode of worship and discipline ; more than a course of decent and respectable morals. What more? According to our text, it is A life-a new spiritual life-the life of God in the soul of man ; a spark, as it were of the divine nature—a birth derived from the Spirit of God.
Thus speaks my text. The words before us are full of majesty ; they are the words of the Son of God, who " spake as never man spake ;” and they were spoken in vindication of his character and mission against the cavils of the Jews. He had performed a great miracle at the pool of Bethesda; he had healed, in a moment, a poor man who had been a cripple almost forty years : but the Jews, instead of being thereby convinced that he was the true Mes. siah, opposed and persecuted him. But he asserts his power to perform the same divine actions as his VOL. III.
Father; and he claims the same divine honours. Now one of the most glorious displays of the divine power is the resurrection of the dead; and “ as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." This power, he declares in our text, shall accompany his word; and he introduces the declaration with his usual solemnity, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God.” There is a two-fold resurrection spoken of in this chapter, of both of which Christ is the author ; the first is a spiritual resurrection, or the renewal of the souls of men who are dead in sins; and the other is a corporeal resurrection : or raising up the dead bodies of men from the grave. The first is spoken of in the text; the other is asserted in the 28th and 29th verses of this chapter : “ Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Of the spiritual resurrection, intended in the text, he says, not only the hour cometh, but it now is; and doubt. less divine power attended the discourse of which our text is a part ; and God grant that the same power may now attend his word, that some here present may, at this hour, hear the voice of the Son of God and live.
Here let us notice the four following particulars.
First. The condition of all natural men---they are “ dead.”
Secondly. The description of the gospel-it is “ the voice of the Son of God.”
Thirdly. The application of this with divine power—_ the dead shall hear the voice of the Sop of God ;” and,
Lastly. The happy effect of all this—"and they that hear shall live."
First. Let us notice the condition of all natural men, as here described; "the dead shall hear." Nothing, my friends, is of greater importance in practical religion, than to be well acquainted with our true state and condition, as fallen creatures, as the children of Adam, in whom we all fell from his original state, the state in which he was created. Upon this, therefore, the scripture frequently insists; and to render us the better acquainted with it, it is illustrated by many similitudes. Here it is represented as a state of death ; not that of the body, though that will assuredly follow, as the wages of sin ; but that state of the soul, even in a living person, which unhappily resembles death. Thus St. Paul, when he congratulates the Ephesian Christians on their conversion, refers to their former condition before conversion. (Ephes. ii. 1.) He says, “ You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins ;” and the same apostle, speaking of a person living in sin, (1 Tim. v. 6.) expressly says, “She that liveth in pleasure, (luxuriously and carnally devoted to sensual passions) is dead whilst she liveth.”
The propriety of this similitude will appear, if you recollect the following particulars. The dead are in a state of perfect ignorance : whatever is passing in the world, even among those who were their nearest and dearest relations and friends, they know it not. Whatever improvements are making in science ; whatever revolutions take place upon earth, they know them not. And is not the state of every natural man, a state of ignorance? Yes ; " the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them,” while remaining in that state, for “they must be spiritually discerned.” The dead are totally inactive. As the tree falls so it lies:
and thus it is with dead souls, the eye is closed to all the glorious objects of the gospel. The ear is shut against all the charming sounds of grace. Not a breath of prayer ascends to God. Not a step is moved towards the heavenly world.
Death is a state of deformity. The once beautiful countenance is bereft of all its charms, and becomes shocking and ghastly. Abraham says, of his belove ed Sarah, “Bury my dead out of my sight.” And has not sin despoiled man of his original beauty ; for once he was beautiful indeed ; bearing the glorious resemblance of his great and holy Maker ; but now, the holy God turns away with disgust from the sinner, for“ He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity."
Putrefaction soon follows after death; for "all flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field.”—More odious to the infinitely holy God is iniquity, obscenity, prophaneness, and every other vice, than the putrifying carcase to living more tals, for the throat of the wicked”—his abominable language, is more noisome to God than an open sepulchre ?
There is yet another respect in which man may be said to be dead,he is in a state of condemnation, like a man' under sentence of death, and who is therefore said to be “ dead in law,” though the sentence be not yet executed. Every man is a sinner, and because he is a sinner he stands condemned by the holy law of God; as it is written, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them," and unless such a person be relieved from that state by the Gospel, the "wrath of God abideth on him.” Believers are, indeed, justified; they have " passed from death unto life," but before a man believes in Christ, and so takes the benefit of the heavenly act of grace, he continues “in his sin," and “the wrath of God abides upon him ;" and not only so, but living under the gospel, his unbelief creates an additional and worse offence, and ex