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people. And he mentions especially two, in the verses before us. God hath quickened his people: that is the first act of mercy specified. And then, He hath raised them up, and made them to sit in heavenly places : this is the second act.
Moreover, the Apostle declares at what time, and under what circumstances, these acts of grace were wrought: When was it? “Even when we were dead in sins."
And still further, St. Paul explains how and in what way these things were done. They were done in Christ. He “ hath quickened us together with Christ, and raised us up and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” These are the matters then for our examination at this time. If God enlighten us we shall feel them to be peculiarly instructive, edifying, and comforting to our souls.
I. We say, the Apostle declares TWO ACTS OF MERCY WHICH GOD HATH WROUGHT FOR HIS PEOPLE. He hath quickened them, and hath raised them up, and made them to sit in the heavenly places : that is to say, he hath granted to them a glorious resurrection from the grave, and a triumphant exaltation to his own kingdom. If
you will carefully read over the whole passage to which the text belongs, you will see that this is the Apostle's meaning. You must begin at the 15th verse of the previous Chapter. There you hear the Apostle telling his brethren, how that after he knew of their faith, and love, as Christians, he ceased not to pray for them, and among other blessings which he implored for them was this, the knowledge of God's power toward them. Mark the 17th verse," what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe,” that is, what the power of God, in its exceeding greatness, can and will do for us : and then the Apostle adds, “ 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.” In other words, what God's power did in Christ, that it will do in us; it shall work in us, as it wrought in Him. What has it wrought in Him ? It has raised Him from the dead, quickened his dead body, restored it to life. And what more ? It has exalted Him in that same body, once dead, now quickened, and seated Him at God's right hand in the heavenly places. This was the power that wrought in Christ, and these the acts which it performed. The same power, then, it is which shall work in his people, and the same are the acts which it shall execute in them.
Hence, in our text we find these two things specified. They are spoken of as indeed already done. The reason of this we shall presently see. But whoever follows the Apostle, from the verses to which I have referred in the first Chapter onward to our text, will trace his train of thought, and will observe at once how he has the same grand things in view throughout, the glories awaiting God's Church, the triumph of her resurrection, the height of her exaltation, in that day when the dead in Christ shall rise, shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thenceforward shall be happy and glorified for ever with the Lord.
This is the power of God toward them: this the purpose of his mercy : this the fruit of that great love wherewith He loved them: to quicken them from the grave in the great and blessed day of resurrection, and then to raise them to his throne, and to give them a seat in the heavenly places, an abode with Himself in glory.
See then, brethren, see and admire the wonders of God's love. O, what has that love in store for you! To what bliss shall it bring you ! To what honour shall it raise you! Vile as you are, guilty as you have been, worthless as you still feel yourselves to be, God designs to have you near Him, and with Him, and that for everYou shall see God. Your eyes
Your eyes shall behold “ the King eternal, immortal, invisible, who dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto, whom no man as yet hath seen, or can see;” in his very presence, and in sight of his majesty, you shall eternally dwell, eternally delight. True it is, death may come,
may near, yet a few days and we may have to lay you in the dust, but then we know, and you know, that a time there is, and it fast draws nigh, when your flesh shall be raised, you shall “ hear the voice of the Son of God and live," you shall be made like to Christ, you shall be clad in light, your bodies shall join your souls in bliss, soul and body well fitted for each other, both perfect, both
pure, both glorified, shall be sharers together of the joy of your Lord. Christian, try to fix your thoughts on this : endeavour to realize it : say within yourself, · Is it then so ? Am I to be ere long in heaven? Am I to be like Christ? Am I to see the very face of God? Am I to abide with Him for ever? Yes, it is this, no less than this, that God hath promised me. "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth : and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” “I shall rise from death, and meet my God, and never go out from his temple, but there be happy and holy to all eternity.'
O what amazing grace is this, my Christian brethren, which God has shewn toward you. What was there in you to invite such loving kindness ? What desert had you, that God should bestow such blessedness upon you ? For your answer to such questions let us pass on to the further matters to be noted in the text.
II. You will observe, THE TIME WHEN, AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH, THESE ACTS OF INFINITE POWER AND LOVE WERE ACCOMPLISHED. We then shall see what desert or merit there was in us: and whether it was our own goodness and worthiness that drew down such tokens of favour from Almighty God toward us.
What saith the Apostle ? “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us, and raised us up, and made us to sit in heavenly places." All was done, you observe, even when we were dead in sins; therefore it could not have been done for any merit or goodness which God could see in us. But then, why was it? St Paul tells us; “for his great love wherewith He loved us." Love, free love, sovereign love, unchanging and eternal love, looked upon us in our sins, pitied us, and resolved to redeem, and glorify us. What a marvellous truth! When there was nothing in us but sin; nothing to invite divine favour, but every thing to incur divine anger ; nothing to attract almighty love, but every thing to call down almighty wrath; this was the time, and under these circumstances it was, that our salvation, in all its fulness, was secured ; our deliverance from death, our resurrection to life, our exaltation to glory, all in effect was done, not literally and actually done, but so determined on, and such steps in order thereunto were taken, that the thing became sure, settled, and made certain, as certain as though already accomplished. Hence, as have already said, St. Paul in the text speaks of these acts of God's grace towards his people, as even now already executed.