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you will see the grave divested of its terrors. There you behold your Saviour blessing, by his presence, the place of the departed, where in hope and felicity your spirit shall abide, till the day when it shall be called forth to assume the garments of immortality and glory, and to ascend to the Heaven of Heavens, where God dwells. For,
Jesus your Lord, Christians, rose from the tomb, and thus affords you the pledge of these glorious hopes--the hopes of bliss unspeakable, and without end-of our “corruptible putting on incorruption, and our mortal immortality”-of being united to “ the spirits of the just”- of being “ for ever with the Lord." - The Lord hath done great things for us, let us be glad.”
I Cor. ix. 25. Heb. xii. 23.
1 Thess, iv. 17.
THE VICTORY THROUGH CHRIST,
1 Cor. xv. 56, 57.
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the
law; but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the triumphant declaration with which the Apostle concludes a perspicuous and animated view of the doctrine of the resurrection.
That “ Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept,” is the exalted truth which in all its important consequences he illustrates and defends with great strength of argument; and finally exhibits, as affording to the Christian, the most exalted consolations-“ For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal 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 causes which give to death its power, and the means of triumph over them, which the Christian enjoys, are then stated in the words of the text—"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.”
My brethren, we are all subject to the law, to sin, and to death. The nature of the dominion which they exercise over us, and the means of victory afforded us by Jesus Christ, are therefore inquiries in which we are all interested. The text suggests the order in which the subject is to be viewed.
I. In what respects is "sin the sting of death ?"
II. In what respects is “ the law the strength of sin ?"
These are the inquiries which will prepare the way for pointing out,
III. The mode by which “God giveth us the victory over them through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I. In what respects is sin the sting of death. 1. Because it is the cause of death.
“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Death was the penalty annexed to transgression — “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Alas ! the offence was committed, and the penalty followed. Man, made immortal, and placed in the paradise of God, to enjoy his Maker's presence and his Maker's bounties, but for transgression would never have known death. Well therefore may sin be said to be the sting, since it is the cause of death.
But sin is not only the cause of death; it is that which clothes, it with all its terrors. The pains which death occasions the body; the agonies attending the separation of the soul - from her mortal tabernacle are indeed severe. But these. do not constitute the bitterness of death. These could be borne with composure, even with triumph, were it not that the soul is wounded by sin. If the conscience were at peace; if there were no transgressions for which an account must be rendered at the tribunal of her judge; if the soul were-pure from the stains of sin, and fitted to enjoy the presence of her Maker; if she could contemplate only joy and bliss awaiting her in the new state of being on which she was to enter ; what would be death, but a translation to scenes of more exalted enjoyment. How little then should we regard those pains and agonies, soon terminating in joys that would know no end, in the perfection both of body and soul for
But, ah! brethren, when the pangs of death are to be borne by a wounded spirit, and to be encountered by a conscience oppressed with guilt; then it is that death is terrible. When in the midst of the agonies that attend the rending of the soul from the body, the sinner calls to mind his iniquities, looks back on a long
series of transgressions, looks forward to the righteous tribunal of the God whom he has offended; beholds divine wrath impending over him; and that bottomless pit where the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever, opening to receive him; then it is that death is terrible; then it is that, to escape this second death, he would call on the rocks and mountains to cover him. It is sin which occasions these
rrors; which excites in the conscience fearful apprehension of the wrath of God; and which quickens “the worm that never dies, and kindles the fire that never shall be quenched.” The agonies of death could be borne but for those terrors with which sin has armed him. The sting of death is sin.
II. And what gives sin this tremendous power ? We are answered in the words of the text, “The strength of şin is the Law.” The law may be considered in a two-fold signification; of the moral law, to which men are universally subject, and of the law imposed by God upon the nation of Israel. In both these significations it may be said that “the law is the strength of sin.”
1. The moral law is the strength of sin. For by the law is the knowledge of sin, The principle upon which this assertion is founded is obvious, “ where there is no law, there can be no transgression.” “Without the law, sin is dead 6." The * Rom. iv. 15.
Rom. vii, 8.