"BLESSED be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us: to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant to us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." Luke 1. 68-75. These wonderful and gracious words of the priest and prophet of the Most High, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, when the child was eight days old, who should go before the face of the Lord Jesus, blessedly reveal and show the whole work of redemption through the anointed Messiah unto eternal glory, according to the holy covenant and oath of God. As this prophecy was just before the advent of the Son of God in Bethlehem, so it was given as a divine message from God, proclaiming that the fullness of the time was come when he would send forth his only begotten Son in the flesh and under the law, to fulfill all this glorious salvation; "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him." Eph. III. 10-12. And so the Lord suddenly came to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, to fulfill it, and to mediate between his Father and his covenant-people. We have followed him on in his heavenly footsteps and holy ministry, from his lowly birth to his glorious coronation upon the throne of glory, the Head of the church and the King of Zion. We have beheld something of his triumphant success and glorious power as the Prince and Savior, and how his arm of omnipotent power has ruled for him, to the overthrow of the enemies of righteousness, and in bringing his redeemed to Zion, the kingdom of his Father, under the victorious and righteous reign of his grace that bringeth salvation.
Having followed the meek and lowly Captain of salvation, the Commander and Leader of the "little flock," "through great tribulation," until we have sat down with him in his kingdom of grace, and found rest unto our souls, we now "serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life." And we rejoice that our glorified Brother upon his Father's throne of absolute dominion, having all power in heaven and earth, is our High Priest for ever after the power of an endless lire, and that his faithful word to us is, "Because I live, ye shall live also." Therefore, to him and us God has promised in his covenant, saying, "His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven." Ps. LXXXIX. 29. Accordingly, our God has brought us into the sacred bonds of this covenant of life and peace in his reigning Son, and "we are saved by hope." "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began," said Paul to Titus. "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." Rom. VIII. 24, 25.
The saints are now in this waiting state, hoping for that which they see not; "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Their High Priest, whom God hath consecrated for evermore, has personally passed beyond the veil of mortal flesh, to suffer and die no more, where he ever liveth in the very presence and glory of God; but we are still clothed with mortality, as our risen and ascended Brother and High Priest unto God once was, and we, according to his promise, by faith look and wait for his return, that we may behold his glory, which God hath given unto him, and be with him where he is. "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. *** For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Cor. XIII. 9-12. This waiting and longing and hoping for the full revelation and blessing of God, while we worship him and magnify his reverend and holy name in this earthly tabernacle, was solemnly represented in type by the worshipping and praying congregation of the Lord in the sanctuary without, while the officiating high priest for them stood before the Lord within the veil. The inspiring music of the golden bells upon the border of his sacred robe assured them that God accepted and heard him on their behalf, and that he should surely return again and bless them in the name of the Lord their God. "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and b~ gracious unto thee, the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them." Num. VI. 22-27. This was a very great blessing, with which God blessed the children of Israel, because they were his chosen and redeemed people; yet all this was only an earnest of better blessings to come. Of these let us now read: "The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren." Gen. XLIX. 26. This overflowing blessing the Father put upon the head of his Son Jesus. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved." Eph. I. 3-6. This is the fullness of the blessing, the everlasting blessing in the Beloved, the Apostle and High Priest of all the chosen and predestinated sons and daughters of the everlasting Father, and it is unto all the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus. In the consummation of this perpetual blessing, they shall all be holy and without blame before the Father in love, and shall be taken home to himself, unto which holy and blissful estate he has predestinated or foreordained them, "to the praise of the glory of his grace." And so, according to this appointment and blessing of God, their righteous Advocate with the Father asked, saying, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." John XVII. 24. So the apostle Peter likewise spoke of this infinite and accomplished blessing of the God of the everlasting covenant, saying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Pet. I. 3-5. In the last time, therefore, all the heirs to this inheritance in heaven, who are thus kept by the power of God unto it, shall be brought into its full possession, and into the glorious revelation of the finished salvation and the fadeless inheritance of eternal life and holiness, and the perfection of beauty and love. And so John also speaks of this perfected salvation in all the predestinated children of God, the complete brotherhood of Christ, saying, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1 John III. 2. So long as we sojourn in this militant state, as strangers and pilgrims in our earthly house or mortal body, we cannot thus see our glorified and crowned High Priest and King, the first-born Brother from the dead among the many brethren, because our finite powers are too weak to bear the full revelation of the King in his beauty now. To the three apostles on the holy mount, and again to John on Pattmos, was given a brief glimpse of the beloved Son of God as he is, but it was too great a weight of glory for them in the flesh, and they fell to the ground. And also to Paul, to whom was given an abundant revelation of heavenly things, when caught up into the third heaven or paradise of God, he heard unspeakable words. The martyred Stephen, too, was highly favored with his Lord's sufficient grace and the light of his face, to sustain him under his cruel torture as they gnashed on him with their teeth; and "he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Acts VII. 55, 56. These are divinely blessed assurances and earnnests of the heavenly glory that awaits the redeemed of the Lord, after they have received the adoption, unto which God predestinated them before the world was. Therefore Paul was inspired to comfort the suffering brethren in Christ with these words: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything 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. 28-34. It has been proved that all for whom Christ intercedes shall be with him in his glory. And Paul shows above that all the predestinated people of God shall be justified and glorified, and thus shall they be conformed to the image of his Son in his divine nature and life and holiness. Yea, with God this is as though they were glorified, and so Paul speaks of it in the perfect tense, as that which is done. He divinely assures his brethren, that, as God had not withheld his Son from his people, but delivered him up unto death for us all, he would with him also freely give us all things. And that, having given his Son power over all flesh, and all power in heaven and earth, so that the Roman governor, who delivered him up to be crucified, could have no power against him, except it were given him from above, as the lamb-like Jesus told him; therefore Paul knew that all things work together for good to them that love God; because all things are under his omnipotent control, and subject to his power. This is the divine protection and safety of all for whom Christ makes intercession, and whom God justifieth. Jesus assures us that heaven and earth shall pass away, but his words shall not till all be fulfilled. Paul was therefore bold to say that no peril, trial or foe, as tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, or sword, shall separate us from the love of Christ, and he says, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. VIII. 35-39. O, how unspeakably blessed and confirming this is! To be conquerors over all these combined dangers and opposing powers would be very wonderful and seem impossible, but O! "In all these things we are MORE than conquerors." This in an infinite good, surpassing our utmost thought. We shall not only conquer all these things, but the least and feeblest child in the kingdom shall triumphantly rise up from the conflict into heights of infinite strength and glory and blessing, for ever free from all weakness, shame, pain and death. All this, O living, glorious words, "THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US I" That loved us, and gave himself for us! This love is mightier than all opposing powers and foes, and they were and are as nothing, when arrayed against the people whom the Lord loved with infinite, perfect, everlasting love. He who so loved them, through whom we are more than conquerors, and "who also maketh intercession for us," said to his loving and Almighty Father. "And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I IN THEM."
All this is infinitely lovely, blessed and heavenly, and our language can never utter its wondrous fullness of divine goodness and beauty and power, thus bestowed upon the chosen people of our Lord's priesthood and kingdom. For they are all equally embraced in the fullness and perfection of the immutable love of God for his holy and blessed Son, and both this love and the living and loving Son abideth in them; and so their life is hid with Christ in God, and the eternal God is their refuge. Jesus, therefore, comforted his disciples with the assurance that, "the Father himself loveth you;" and he also promised them that, during the time of his personal absence from them in the body of flesh, he would send the Comforter to abide with them and in them, the Spirit of truth, who should bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had said unto them, and show them things to come. "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you," said the loving Savior. It was because of this indwelling and ministration of the Spirit that Paul testified, saying, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." 1 Cor. XII. 13. Paul says of Christ, "For through him we both". (Jews and Gentiles) "have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Eph. II. 18-22. This is the fulfillment of a prophecy of old, saying, "Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." Ps. L. 5. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Ps. LI. 17.
It has been abundantly shown that the Lord will build up Zion, his kingdom, and gather his people together in his spiritual house, that they should offer praise unto him. So there arises in their hearts the desire of David, when he said, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me: he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." Ps. XXVII. 4-8. This is the way and work of the Lord, and this its blessed effect; and this is the heartfelt experience, desire and prayer of all who are taught of God.
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob: and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isa. II. 2-4. All this reign of righteousness and peace is under the dispensation of the covenant of life and peace, the Mediatorial reign of the Prince and Savior; and it is positively declared by the Lord that thus it shall be in his kingdom. Let us observe, that the mountain of the Lord's house is exalted above the hills, and established or firmly fixed in the top of the mountains; that is, it is not earthly or worldly, but far above or superior to the hills of worldly wisdom, and the mountains of legal worship, as the law on Sinai. For the temple or house of the Lord is heavenly and spiritual, and it is firmly established upon the eternal mountain of his holiness; and all who are raised up through the divine power of the Holy Spirit to worship in his temple are holy; for they are in the life and righteousness of Christ, and are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion," is the word of God. His holy Son said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." John XII. 32. "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." John VI. 44. It is thus that the Lord builds his church upon the immutable Rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Zerubbabel, who rebuilt the temple of the Lord, was a type of Christ, God's Anointed, and it is written: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you." "This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, Crying, Grace, grace unto it." Zech. IV.
This brings us to the completion of the Lord's house, the time of the end, "the last day," so frequently spoken of by the Son of man, when he shall be revealed in his Father's glory, and "bring all the saints with him." For, as the High Priest of the kingdom of priests did not abide long in the tabernacle of his flesh, so neither shall his brethren, who must come after him in his steps, and pass through the veil of the flesh, then arise and ascend with him in the power of his resurrection from the dead. This will be the perfection of his priesthood in them. Then shall they be a kingdom of priests, an holy nation, the heavenly family, to joyfully worship their God and Father in the divine beauty of perfect holiness In his holy heaven, and make his praise glorious for ever and ever. His washed and sanctified and justified people now taste that the Lord is gracious, "To whom coming, as unto a Living Stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." I Pet. II. 3-5. This is not only their acceptable and delightful service now, as grace is given them according to the measure of the gift of Christ, while they shall remain in this mortal house of their tabernacle, but it shall be more fully and gloriously their sweet and eternal employ when that which is in part is done away, and that which is perfect is come. And just as truly as the God of salvation has begun the good work in them by his Spirit of life and grace in his Son, he will also perform it until the day of the revelation of Jesus Christ, when he shall come to be glorified in all his saints, and the sons of God shall be manifested in the resurrection unto life and holiness, bearing the divinely lovely image of the glorified Son of God, their High Priest and Brother, First-born from the dead. For, speaking of the purpose and power of Christ's atoning death and risen life, Paul said, "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." 2 Cor. V. 15. This word, "henceforth," goes on, and on, and still on, so long as they shall live the new life in Jesus, who is the resurrection, and the life; and all this endless life they shall live to him who died for all his people and brethren, and rose again. They cannot live to themselves in the flesh, but must find their life, and their bread of life and water of salvation, in Christ, 'who is their life; for in the flesh there is naught but thorns and thistles, sin and death.
"Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Heb. XIII. 12-16. We seek a continuing city, an abiding home, "an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." This is "to come." In part we still bear the image of the earthy man; for we have not yet been glorified, neither have we yet been conformed to the image of God's Son, unto which he predestinated us that we should be; nor have we yet received the adoption, for which we wait, to-wit, the redemption of our body. But God's holy decree of predestination shall not fail, for his "wills" and "shalls" relating to his foreknown, chosen and predestinated people cannot fail, because his omnipotence will accomplish all the word that hath gone forth out of his mouth. It is true of us, as Paul says, "For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." 2 Cor. V. 4, 5. The earnest is the faithful and strengthening assurance that God will bestow the full inheritance of life and immortality, unto which he hath wrought his people in Christ through the Spirit. Paul therefore says again, "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." Eph. I. 11-14. It has been abundantly shown from the holy Scriptures that the Lord's redeemed people are the purchased possession, and that they now wait for their full deliverance from the bondage of corruption and mortality, into the glorious inheritance in light and immortality, when mortality in them shall be swallowed up of life. When speaking of the bodies of his brethren, Paul says, "Now the body is *** for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? *** What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor. VI. 13-20. Paul therefore says again, "Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." 1 Thess. V. 22-24. That is, the God of peace, who calls his people with an holy calling, will sanctify them wholly, and preserve their whole spirit and soul and body blameless unto the coming of Christ. The meaning is, the redeemed of the Lord cannot be condemned or perish, because God has justified them from all things, and keeps them by his own power unto salvation and eternal life in Christ. His holy decree of election is, that they should be holy and blameless before him in love. This, therefore, they shall be; for they are "The holy people," "an holy nation," "an holy priesthood," washed and made spotless and without blemish in the blood of the Lamb of God, and they are the righteousness of God.
We have seen that, when our atoning High Priest expired on the cross, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints whiich slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection. And the inspired writer has instructed us that, when this was accomplished, the way into the holy heaven was opened, and the gateway of death was made the highway unto God and glory. For when the strong veil was torn away, then the way was made manifest out of the holy place or first tabernacle into the Holy of holies. This separating veil represented the veil of our mortal flesh, which must be rent and removed by the strong hand of death, before we can enter into the unseen heaven, "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." Heb. VI. 20.
The rending rocks, the rent veil, the opened graves, and the rising bodies of the sleeping dead, all are so many infallible proofs that the crucified Son of man made an end of sin, destroyed the power of darkness, and is death's conqueror. At the grave of Lazarus he said, "I am the Resurrection, and the Life." And thus did the conquering Man of the cross abolish death, and bring life and immortality to light. This is the holy light of heaven. All upon whom it shines are children of the Light, and shall not abide in darkness, but shall shine in the kingdom of their Father, and be for ever joyful in the transporting Light of Life. Even now their most sacred employ is, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Col. I. 12-14.
In the dear Son of God we ourselves have redemption, so completely so that our sins are all forgiven, and shall never rise up to condemn us. Sin brought death, and shuts us up in its prison-house, the silent tomb. But our precious Christ was sacrificed for our sins, then taken down from the altar and laid in the boasting grave, which was both sealed and guarded. O how rich the mercy and compassionate the love of our dear Redeemer, that he was laid in the tomb for us! For here he conquered in the final conflict, and his victory was for us, and we shall be joint-heirs with him in the power of his resurrection. Hear the joyful news: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept!"
"Eternal life, at his request,
To every saint is given;
Safety below, and after death,
The plenitude of heaven."
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Ps. CXXVI. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John XIV. 3. "And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts I. 10, 11. He will surely come, therefore, at the appointed time of the Father, and receive his people unto himself in his Father's kingdom of glory. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Heb. lx. 28. There is, therefore, an appointed second coming of Christ, as there was the first advent, when he came in the flesh as the sin-bearer of his people, and put away their sins, when he through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God. And by the one offering of himself having, perfected for ever them that are sanctified, that God hath set apart for himself, and for whom the Son asks the righteous Father that they may be with him where he is, and behold his glory, which the Father gave him; therefore, before he went away in person to be with the Father, he left the above promise with them, that he would come again, and receive his dear people unto himself; that where he is, there they may be also. The night before the precious Christ was put to death in the flesh, he said to his Father, "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee." The two angels in white testified to the wondering disciples, that the Lord Jesus, the resurrected Man of the cross, was taken up from them into heaven, and that he should so come again in like manner as they had seen him go into heaven. Now all this divine testimony gives us the fullest assurance that our glorified Redeemer will come down from heaven the second time, not to bear our sins again in his sacred body on the cross, but having washed us from our sins in his own blood, he shall appear the second time without sin unto the full salvation of his people. That is, when he shall appear the second time unto them that look for him, all his saved people shall then be without sin, for he shall have saved them from their sins, as testified the angel before the birth of Jesus. As yet sinful in his mortal body of dying flesh, Paul exclaimed, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." For Jesus should deliver him from death. He therefore testified again, saying, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. XV. 51-57. This full victory thus given us shall be over both death and the grave, founded upon perfect justification from the law and freedom from sin; and God will crown us with this glorious victory through the righteous priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who took away all our sins, and shall therefore make us free from corruption and mortality, and raise us up to the glorified state of immortality and eternal life, "an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ," his holy and obedient Son.
Now, therefore, all this acceptable spiritual sacrifice, with every qualification and consecration thereunto, as God's spiritual house and priestly family, is entirely through the Lord Jesus, our Brother, our Redeemer, our Resurrection, our Life, our Advocate, and our perfected and glorified High Priest, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself spotless and holy unto God for us. So, then, we have nothing that is holy, spiritual, acceptable and well-pleasing unto God, only that which God hath given unto us in his righteous Son. He is our wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, God having made him all this unto us; and it is of God, and according to his choice and predestination, that we are in Christ Jesus. And it is only because we are in him, and God hath made him all this unto us, that we live to God, love him and serve him, and worship him in spirit and truth. Even the power of faith, by which we believe, is the power of God in the resurrection of Christ, as Paul testifies, saying, "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us- ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places," etc. Eph. I. 18-20. And so the faith by which we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is the inwrought power of his resurrection from the dead, the power by which he now liveth unto God, and also liveth in us. Paul could therefore say, that he was both crucified with Christ, and quickened with him from the death unto sin, and that Christ lived in him, and the life he now lived in the flesh he lived by the faith of the Son of God. He affirms the same truth thus: "But God, who is-rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." Eph. II. 4-7. All this glorious salvation is through Christ and with him; yea, he is salvation itself, salvation from sin and death, the last enemy. And all this rich mercy and great love of God to his people is for the glorious purpose, that in the coming ages, ages upon ages, he might manifest the exceeding riches of his grace in his loving kindness toward his people through their Anointed Savior, as the name Christ Jesus means.
Now Paul, having thus shown the inseparable relation of faith to the resurrection-power of Christ and his life, then speaks of this faith in the risen Christ as the assurance and earnest of our resurrection in the life and holiness of Christ, saying, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thess. IV. 14-18. These are truly words of divine comfort, supported by the. infallible word of the Lord that cannot be broken, and made sure to us by the victory of our faith in Jesus, that he died and rose again, which we do verily believe, because God has given us this power to believe on Christ. Our faith is the gift of God, and a fruit of the Spirit; therefore it is the witness of the Spirit in our hearts that we are born of God, and are in Christ Jesus his Son. The inspired word of the Lord Jesus is, that he himself shall descend from heaven, and then shall the dead in Christ rise first, and the living saints be changed in a moment, and all, thus redeemed, shall be caught up together to meet the Lord, who has thus come the second time without sin upon them unto their glorious salvation and full redemption, to receive them to himself, to ever be with him and behold his glory. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" Col. III. 4. There is a divine positiveness and absolute certainty in all these truths, for they are the word of the Lord, and shall be fulfilled at the time appointed, just as he hath spoken, because his omnipotent power will perform all his promises to his people. This is the perfection of the priesthood of the holy Son of God for his people and in them.
"To all eternity our Priest
And King shall be adored;
Sinners from Satan's power released
Shall ever praise the Lord."