And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:…
From this subject we may observe the following: that the death and resurrection of Christ, that eternal life to which He was raised, and His mediatory sovereignty are the great grounds of the saints' consolation and sufficient to dispel all their unbelieving fears.
I. To speak a little to each of the things in the text, to unfold them, so as that the ground of comfort in them may appear.
1. As to His death. On this I offer these few remarks:(1) His death supposeth — His incarnation and living as a man in the world (John 1:14).
(2) His death was vicarious: He died in the room and stead of sinners.
(3) His sufferings and death were most exquisite: "God spared not His own Son."(4) His sufferings and death were satisfactory, and that fully.
2. As to His resurrection and the life to which He was restored. Here consider —
(1) That God raised up Christ.
(2) Where He now lives. It is in heaven, which we had forfeited by sin, but where we still would fain be.
(3) For what He lives. The apostle tells us that it is to make intercession for us, and He Himself says it is to prepare a place for us in His Father's house, where there are many mansions.
3. The eternity of this life. The man Christ lives for evermore. He will eternally represent His own sacrifice as the foundation of our eternal glory: and as for His kingdom, it is an everlasting kingdom that shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:14). Let us —
4. Attend to His mediatorial sovereignty. Hell and death are terrible to the believer, but Christ holds the keys of both. Now these things, the death, resurrection, life, and power of Jesus, may be considered three ways in order to improve them for consolation to the saints.
(1) As patterns and examples.
(2) As pledges, assuring the saints of what they wish for.
(3) As containing in them sufficient salves for all their sores.
II. To point out THE NATURE OF THAT CONSOLATION WHICH SAINTS MAY DERIVE FROM THESE. For this purpose let us take a view of the fountains of their fears and distrust.
1. There is the super-eminent glory and infinite majesty of the great God. This, when seen and considered by poor worm man, whose habitation is in the dust, is a great source of fear. Can ye not look straight forward to Divine majesty, then fetch a compass and look through the veil of the flesh of Christ? and so ye may see God and not die. "Often and willingly," said Luther, "would I thus look at God."
2. Sin is another fountain for fear: sinfulness considered with the nature of God. But fear not, O Christian Christ was dead and is alive for evermore; therefore the guilt that exposes to hell-fire is done away. Do ye doubt the completeness of the satisfaction? Behold Christ in heaven with the complete discharge in His hand. He is out of prison. He brought the keys with Him and is now on the throne.
3. The sinner sees pollution in himself and holiness in God. When they behold the spotless purity of God, and themselves as an unclean thing, they are ready to say, Oh, will God look on vile me? will these pure eyes cast a favourable glance on such a dunghill-worm? Fear not, Christ was dead and is alive. He is made of God unto you sanctification.
4. Desertions are a cause of fears. The deserted soul is an affrighted soul. Good news to you in your low state Christ died, and in His death He was forsaken of God; and yet He now enjoys the bosom of the Father and the light of His countenance. Who would not be content to follow Christ, even through the valley of the shadow of death?
5. Temptations are a source of fears. Sometimes Satan gets leave to dog saints at their heels. This fills them with fear: but to such I say, Fear not. Christ died and is alive evermore. He that thus lives evermore gave a deadly wound to the tempter. We have no more to do but to cry to our Lord, who, from His own temptations, well knows how to succour His tempted people.
6. Death is the cause of much fear. But fear not: He that was dead is alive; and when ye are carried off you shall be with Him who is infinitely better than all earthly relations.
7. Hell is a fountain of fears. But fear not, for Christ died; and if so, He suffered the torments thou shouldst have suffered in hell as to the essentials of them. God will not require two payments for one debt.
1. The comfortless state of them that are out of Christ.
2. The duty of Christians to improve these things for their actual comfort.
(1) The grieving of the Spirit cuts the throats of our comforts.
(2) Good men sometimes build their comforts on outward blessings; hence when these are gone their comfort is gone.
(3) On grace within them, not on grace without them; the comfort of some streams from their obedience principally, therefore it is soon dried up; whereas the death and life of Christ are liable to no change, as is our obedience.
(4) Upon the coming in of words to their minds. Hence, when a promise comes in they are comforted; when a threatening, all is gone. I do believe that the Spirit comforts His people by the word, and that He makes words come in with an impression on the soul (John 14:26). But then these words lead the soul direct to Christ and to build our comfort on Him; but it is not of God to build it on the bare impression of a comfortable word. The coming in of a word should guide us to Christ; and though the impression, the guide go, yet we may keep our hold of Him.A word to other two sources of the saint's fears.
1. Weakness and spiritual inability for the duties of religion. The soul taking a view of the great work it has to do, what strong lusts are to be mortified, temptations resisted, duties performed; and then, considering how weak and unable it is for any of these things, it is even ready to sink. But fear not: Christ died, etc. (Hebrews 12:12).
2. The danger of an evil time is another source of fear (Psalm 49:5). An evil time is a time of many snares. The soul is afraid that he will never stand out, but one day will fall. Fear not: Christ died, and it was an evil time, a time of many snares, yet He came safe off. This He did as a public person, and so it is a pledge that ye shall also be carried through (Hebrews 4:14-16).
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: