Luke 24:1
The simple, unpretending story of the Resurrection, as here narrated, brings into view other truths than that great and supreme fact of the rising of our Lord. We have our attention called to -

I. THE CONSTANCY AND THE EAGERNESS OF TRUE AFFECTION, (Ver. 1.) No thought had these women of deserting him whom they loved but whom the world hated and had now slain. On the contrary, the enmity of those that maligned and murdered him made their affection to cleave all the more firmly to him. It attended him right up to the very last; it followed him to the grave; it came to bestow those final ministries which only devoted affection would have cared to render. And it showed itself as eager as it was constant. "Very early in the morning they came unto the sepulchre." True love to our Lord will stand these tests. It will survive the enmities and oppositions of an indifferent or a hostile society; it will be unaffected by these except, indeed, to be strengthened and deepened by them; moreover, it will show its loyalty and its fervour by the eagerness of its service, not waiting for the last hour of necessity, but availing itself of the first hour of opportunity.

II. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF DIFFICULTIES AS WE GO ON OUR WAY OF FAITHFUL SERVICE. We know from Mark (Mark 16:3) that these women were full of apprehension lest they should be unable to get the stone rolled away from the door. But they went on their way to do their sacred office; and when they reached the spot they found their difficulty vanished (ver. 2). This is the common experience of the seeker after God in Christ, of the man desirous of discharging his duty in the fear of God, of the Christian worker. "Who will roll away that intervening stone?" we ask timidly and apprehensively. "How shall we get over that insurmountable barrier? How will our weakness prevail against such solid obstacles?" Let us go on our way of faith, of duty, of loving service, and we shall find that, if some angel has not been on the scene, the hindrance has disappeared, the way is open, the goal within our reach, the service within the compass of our powers.

III. THE SURPRISES THAT AWAIT US AS WE PROCEED, These women found an empty grave, visitants from the unseen world, a most unexpected though most welcome message; instead of a mournful satisfaction, they found a new hope, far too good and far too great to be held all at once within their heart (vers. 4-7). Peter, too, found himself the subject of a great astonishment (ver. 12). God has his merciful surprises for us as we proceed on our Christian path. He may surprise us with a sudden fear or a sudden sorrow; but he also surprises us with an unanticipated peace; with an unlooked-for joy; with a new, strange hope; before long he will introduce us to the blessed surprise of the heavenly realities.

IV. THE NEARNESS OF THE HEAVENLY TO THE EARTHLY SPHERE. (Ver. 4.) Angels were always at hand to render service in the great redemptive work. Why should we think of heaven as "beyond the stars"? Why should we not think of it as encompassing us on every side, only separated from us by a thin veil, through which our mortal senses cannot pass to its glorious spectacles and its blessed harmonies?

V. THAT GOD HAS MUCH BETTER THINGS IN STORE FOR US THAN WE THINK POSSIBLE. Neither the wondering women nor the incredulous apostles could believe in such a happy issue as they were assured of, though they had been carefully prepared to expect it (ver. 11). In the feebleness of our faith we say to ourselves, "Surely God is not going to give me that, to place me there, to bestow on me such a heritage as this!" But why not? For him to make all grace, all power, all life, to abound, is for him to do what he has promised, and what he has been doing since he first opened his hand to create and to bestow. - C.







Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre.
The realm of nature a symbol of the realm of grace.

1. The gloomy night.

2. The much-promising dawn.

3. The breaking day.

(Van Oosterzee.)

1. How mournful they go thither.

2. How joyful they return.

(Van Oosterzee.)

How on Easter morning it began to be bright —

1. In the garden.

2. In human hearts.

3. Over the cross.

4. For the world.

5. In the realm of the dead.

(Van Oosterzee.)

The first rays of the glory of Christ in the dawn of the Easter morning.

1. The stone rolled away.

2. The glittering angels.

3. The hastening women.

(Arndt.)

The open grave of the Risen One —

1. An arch of His triumph.

2. A bow of peace denoting heavenly favour and grace.

3. A door of life for the resurrection of our spirit and our body.

(Hofacker.)

1. The stone of the curse Ye rolled away therefrom.

2. There dwell angels therein.

3. The dead are gone out therefrom.

(Rantenberg.)

A festival of —

1. The most glorious joy.

2. The most glorious victory.

3. The most glorious faith.

4. The most glorious hope.

(Schmid.)

Stations on the line of your journey are not your journey's end, but each one brings you nearer. A haven is not home; but it is a place of quiet and rest, where the rough waves are stayed. A garden is a piece of common land, and yet it has ceased to be common land; it is an effort to regain paradise. A bud is not a flower, but it is the promise of a flower. Such are the Lord's Days; the world's week tempts you to sell your soul to the flesh and the world. The Lord's Day calls you to remembrance, and begs you rather to sacrifice earth to heaven and time to eternity, than heaven to earth and eternity to time. The six days not only chain you as captives of the earth, but do their best to keep the prison doors shut, that you may forget the way out. The Lord's Day sets before you an open door. Samson has carried the gates away. The Lord's Day summons you to the threshold of your house of bondage to look forth into immortality — your immortality. The true Lord's Day is the eternal life; but a type of it is given to you on earth, that you may be refreshed in the body with the anticipation of the great freedom wherewith the Lord will make you free.

(J. Pulsford.)

Why seek ye the living among the dead?
I. THE FACT ANNOUNCED BY THE ANGEL IS, AS WE CAN SEE WHEN WE LOOK BACK ON IT, AMONG THE BEST ATTESTED IN HUMAN HISTORY. For forty days the apostles continually saw Jesus Christ risen, touched Him, spoke with Him, ate add drank with Him as before His death. They staked everything upon this fact. It was to them a fact of experience. One or two people may be hallucinated, but not a multitude. A large number of people will not easily be so swayed by a single interest or a single passion as to believe simultaneously in a story that has no foundation in fact.

II. The fact of the resurrection is the ground of THE REMONSTRANCE of the angels with the holy women — "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" But is this question applicable only to them during that pause when they felt the shock of the empty tomb? Let us consider.

1. First of all, then, it would seem that we may literally seek the living among the dead if we seek Christ in a Christianity, so termed, which denies the resurrection. If Christ's body never left the grave, if it has somewhere mingled with the dust of earth, then, however we may be attracted by His moral teaching, we have no ground for hoping in Him as our Redeemer: there is nothing to prove that He was the Son of God in the way He pointed out, or that He has established any new relation between earth and heaven.

2. But nearly the same thing may happen in cases where the resurrection is not denied, but, nevertheless, men fail to see what habits of thought about our Lord it involves. His life is continued on among us; only its conditions are changed. "Lo, I am with you alway," etc. "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore." To think of Him as only one of the great teachers of the world, who have come and disappeared, is to lose sight of the significance of His resurrection from the grave; it is to rank Him in thought with men whose eminence has not saved them from the lot of mortality, and whose dust has long since mouldered in the tomb. It is to lose sight of the line which parts the superhuman from the human. It is to seek the living among the dead.

3. Yet more literally do we seek the living among the dead, if without formally rejecting Christianity we give the best of our thought, of our heart, of our enthusiasm, to systems of thought, or to modes of feeling, which Jesus Christ has set aside.

4. We may not be tempted in these ways to seek the living among the dead teachers or dead elements of old or untrustworthy ways of thinking. But there is a risk of our doing so, certainly not less serious and very much more common, to which we are all exposed. As you know, our Lord's resurrection is a moral as well as an intellectual power. While it convinces us of the truth of Christianity it creates in us the Christian life. We are risen with Christ. The moral resurrection of Christians is a fact of experience. Resurrection from the grip of bad habits, from the charnel-house of bad passions, resurrection from the enervation, corruption, and decay of bad thoughts, bad words, bad deeds, to a new life with Christ, to the life of warm and pure affections, the life of a ready and vigorous will, of a firm and buoyant hope, of a clear strong faith, of a wide and tender charity. But, as a matter of fact, how do we risen Christians really act? We fall back, willingly or wilfully, into the very habits we have renounced. Our repentance is too often like the Lent of Louis the Fourteenth; it is a paroxysm, followed, almost as a matter of course, by the relapse of Easter. To do the great French monarch justice, he did not expect to find Christ's presence in sin and worldliness, as do they who complain of the intellectual difficulties of faith and prayer, while their lives are disposed of in such a manner, that it would be wonderful indeed if faith and prayer could escape suffocation in that chaos of everything save the things which suggest God.

(Canon Liddon.)

1. Observe how Christ's resurrection harmonizes with the history of His birth. Others have all been born in sin, "after Adam's own likeness, in his image," and, being born in sin, they are heirs to corruption. But when the Word of Life was manifested in our flesh, the Holy Ghost displayed that creative hand by which, in the beginning, Eve was formed; and the Holy Child, thus conceived by the power of the Highest, was (as the history shows) immortal even in His mortal nature, clear from all infection of the forbidden fruit, so far aa to be sinless and incorruptible. Therefore, though He was liable to death, "it was impossible He should be holden" of it. Death might overpower, but it could not keep possession; "it had no dominion over Him." He was, in the words of the text, "the Living among the dead." And hence His rising from the dead may be said to have evinced His Divine origin. Such is the connection between Christ's birth and resurrection; and more than this might be ventured concerning His incorrupt nature were it not better to avoid all risk of trespassing upon that reverence with which we are bound to regard it. Something might be said concerning His personal appearance, which seems to have borne the marks of one who was not tainted with birth-sin. Men could scarce keep from worshipping Him. When the Pharisees sent to seize Him, all the officers, on His merely acknowledging Himself to be Him whom they sought, fell backwards from His presence to the ground. They were scared as brutes are said to be by the voice of man. Thus, being created in God's image, He was the second Adam: and much more than Adam in His secret nature, which beamed through His tabernacle of flesh with awful purity and brightness even in the days of His humiliation. "The first man was of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven."

2. And if such was His visible Majesty, while tie yet was subject to temptation, infirmity, and pain, much more abundant was the manifestation of His Godhead when He was risen from the dead. Then the Divine essence streamed forth (so to say) on every side, and environed His Manhood as in a cloud of glory.

3. He ascended into heaven, that He might plead our cause with the Father (Hebrews 7:25). Yet we must not suppose that in leaving us He closed the gracious economy of His Incarnation, and withdrew the ministration of His incorruptible Manhood from His work of loving mercy towards us. "The Holy One of God" was ordained, not only to die for us, but also to be "the beginning" of a new "creation" unto holiness in our sinful race; to refashion soul and body after His own likeness, that they might be "raised up together, and sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Blessed for ever be His holy name! before He went away He remembered our necessity, and completed His work, bequeathing to us a special mode of approaching Him, a holy mystery, in which we receive (we know not how) the virtue of that heavenly body, which is the life of all that believe. This is the blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which "Christ is evidently set forth crucified among us"; that we, feasting upon the sacrifice, may be "partakers of the Divine nature."

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

I. We take THE ANGEL'S DECLARATION first as the grand truth here — "He is risen!" Who is thus risen? Who was dead, and has thus sprung from the grave to life? It is Christ Jesus the Lord, who died for our sins, is risen for our justification. The Saviour is no more a sufferer; His sacrificial deed is done.

1. How deeply instructive and interesting is the Gospel history of this great resurrection miracle! Take this great truth away from the Church, all faith is then vain, all hope destroyed, and the whole majestic building of Christianity falls and crumbles into ruins for ever.

2. We delight, then, to go with these godly women to the tomb of Christ, and while, perhaps, we bring too some humble offering of pure hearts to Him, to find how little it is needed, while we hear some glad tidings of His power, and rejoice in His risen glory.

II. THE ANGELS' EXPOSTULATION. This may be considered as twofold.

1. As a gentle reproof for want of faith. With all their praiseworthy affection for Christ, even when dead, these devout women, last at the cross, and first at the sepulchre, showed great forgetfulness of the Redeemer's words, and their want of faith, as of the other disciples, appears thus gently reproved.

2. This is a faithful expostulation to Christians even now. True religion gives gladness, not deep gloom.

(J. G. Angley, M. A.)

I. CERTAIN INSTRUCTIVE MEMORIES which gather around the place where Jesus slept "with the rich in His death." Though He is not there, He assuredly once was there, for "He was crucified, dead, and buried."

1. He has left in the grave the spices. We will not start back with horror from the chambers of the dead, for the Lord Himself has traversed them, and where He goes no terror abides.

2. The Master also left His grave-clothes behind Him. What if I say He left them to be the hangings of the royal bedchamber, wherein His saints fall asleep? See how He has curtained our last bed!

3. He left in the tomb the napkin that was about His head. Let mourners use it to wipe away their tears.

4. He left angels behind Him in the grave. Angels are both the servitors of living saints and the custodians of their dust.

5. What else did our Well-beloved leave behind Him? He left an open passage from the tomb, for the stone was rolled away; doorless is that house of death. Our Samson has pulled up the posts and carried away the gates of the grave with all their bars. The key is taken from the girdle of death, and is held in the hand of the Prince of Life. As Peter, when he was visited by the angel, found his chains fall from off him, while iron gates opened to him of their own accord, so shall the saints find ready escape at the resurrection morning. One thing else I venture to mention as left by my Lord in His forsaken tomb. I visited some few months ago several of the large columbaria which are to be found outside the gates of Rome. You enter a large square building, sunk in the earth, and descend by many steps, and as you descend, you observe on the four sides of the great chamber innumerable little pigeon-holes, in which are the ashes of tens of thousands of departed persons. Usually in front of each compartment prepared for the reception of the ashes stands a lamp. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of these lamps, but they are all unlit, and indeed do not appear ever to have carried light; they shed no ray upon the darkness of death. But now our Lord has gone into the tomb and illuminated it with His presence, "the lamp of His love is our guide through the gloom." Jesus has brought life and immortality to light by the gospel; and now in the dove-cotes, where Christians nestle, there is light; yea, in every cemetery there is a light which shall burn through the watches of earth's night till the day break and the shadows flee away, and the resurrection morn shall dawn. So then the empty tomb of the Saviour leaves us many sweet reflections, which we will treasure up for our instruction.

II. Our text expressly speaks of VAIN SEARCHES. "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." There are places where seekers after Jesus should not expect to find Him, however diligent may he their search, however sincere their desire. You cannot find a man where he is not, and there are some spots where Christ never will be discovered.

1. In the grave of ceremonialism.

2. Among the tombs of moral reformation.

3. In the law.

4. In human nature.

5. In philosophy.

III. We will again change our strain and consider, in the third place, UNSUITABLE ABODES. The angels said to the women, "He is not here, but is risen." As much as to say — since He is alive He does not abide here. Ye are risen in Christ, ye ought not to dwell in the grave. I shall now speak to those who, to all intents and purposes, live in the sepulchre, though they are risen from the dead.

1. Some of these are excellent people, but their temperament, and perhaps their mistaken convictions of duty, lead them to be perpetually gloomy and desponding.

2. Another sort of people seem to dwell among the tombs: I mean Christians — and I trust real Christians — who are very, very worldly.

3. Once more on this point, a subject more grievous still, there are some professors who live in the dead.house of sin. Yet they say that they are Christ's people. Nay, I will not say they live in it, but they do what, perhaps, is worse — they go to sin to find their pleasures.

IV. I want to warn you against UNREASONABLE SERVICES. Those good people to whom the angels said, "He is not here, but is risen," were bearing a load, and what were they carrying? What is Joanna carrying, and her servants, and Mary, what are they carrying? Why, white linen, and what else? Pounds of spices, the most precious they could buy. What are they going to do? Ah, if an angel could laugh, I should think he must have smiled-as he found they were coming to embalm Christ. "Why, He is not here; and, what is more, He is not dead, He does not want any embalming, He is alive." In other ways a great many fussy people do the same thing. See how they come forward in defence of the gospel. It has been discovered by geology and by arithmetic that Moses was wrong. Straightway many go out to defend Jesus Christ. They argue for the gospel, and apologize for it, as if it were now a little out of date, and we must try to bring it round to suit modern discoveries and the philosophies of the present period. That seems to me exactly like coming up with your linen and precious spices to wrap Him in. Take them away.

V. THE AMAZING NEWS which these good women received — "He is not here, but He is risen." This was amazing news to His enemies. They said, "We have killed Him — we have put Him in the tomb; it is all over with Him." A-ha! Scribe, Pharisee, priest, what have you done? Your work is all undone, for He is risen! It was amazing news for Satan. He no doubt dreamed that he had destroyed the Saviour, but He is risen! What a thrill went through all the regions of hell! What news it was for the grave! Now was it utterly destroyed, and death had lost his sting! What news it was for trembling saints. "He is risen indeed." They plucked up courage, and they said, "The good cause is the right one still, and it will conquer, for our Christ is still alive at its head. It was good news for sinners. Ay, it is good news for every sinner here. Christ is alive; if you seek Him He will be found of you. He is not a dead Christ to whom I point you to-day. He is risen; and He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let us consider, first, the evidences, and, second, the purposes of the second life of Jesus — the life after the crucifixion.

I. AS TO THE EVIDENCES OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION, THERE ARE BOTH EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL LINES OF PROOF WHICH GUARD THIS GREAT AND SUBLIME DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.

1. Jesus Christ actually died. A million and a half of awe-stricken witnesses saw Him die.

2. The second fact in the series of proofs is that Christ was buried. Interment is not often granted to crucified criminals. But Providence overruled the sordidness of the cautious scribes and priests, in order to multiply the witnesses to the resurrection.

3. The next fact is that the sepulchre somehow or other was emptied on the third day. How came the sepulchre to be emptied? There are only two theories. The rulers said the body was stolen out of it. The disciples said the body had risen from it. It is manifest that the enemies would not steal the body of Christ, and how improbable it is that His disciples should have done it. How could it have been done by twelve men against sixty, when Jerusalem was filled with an excited crowd, when the moon shone clearly in a cloudless oriental sky? No; it cannot be believed, and we are driven back therefore to the theory that He actually rose.

4. The internal evidence is equally convincing. Consider the existence and the spread of persecution for the testimony as to the resurrection of Christ.

II. Consider THE PRACTICAL PURPOSES WHICH THE RESURRECTION IS INTENDED TO WORK OUT IN OURSELVES.

1. It is a manifestation, a vindication of ancient prophecy and of the personal character of the Messiah as well.

2. It is a seal of the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus, and by consequence of infinite moment to confirm the hopes of the world.

3. It is an earnest of our own rising, a pledge of immortality for the race for which the Second Adam died.

4. Look at the resurrection as an encouragement. There is a great error, brethren, in Christendom just now, and that is that we believe in a dead Christ. He is not dead, He is living — living to listen to your prayers, living to forgive your sins.

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

The Weekly Pulpit.
I. A SURPRISING FACT. Jesus among the dead!

1. The Saviour's perfect humanity.

2. The Saviour's perfect identity with the cause of man.

II. A MORE SURPRISING FACT. Jesus no longer among the dead!

1. His mission to the tomb was accomplished.

2. His vision of immortality was realized.

3. The true object of faith was secured.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION.

1. If Jesus really died and then rose from the dead, materialism is completely overthrown.

2. Pantheism receives its death-blow with the establishment of Christ's resurrection.

3. All far-reaching scepticism is undermined.

II. THE FACT OF THE RESURRECTION. Conclusion:

1. We should live less in tombs. The grave is not half as large as we think. No life is buried there. Everything Christ-like is risen. Let life, not death, be our companion.

2. We must trust Christ implicitly. The living way has been set before us. He who is the life of the world has lighted its highway from the cradle, not to, but through the tomb.

(D. O. Clark.)

I. THE DEAD ARE THE LIVING. Language, which is more accustomed and adapted to express the appearances than the realities of things, leads us astray very much when we use the phrase "the dead" as if it expressed the continuance of the condition into which men pass in the act of dissolution. It misleads us no less, when we use it as if it expressed in itself the whole truth even as to that act of dissolution. "The dead" and "the living" are not names of two classes which exclude each other. Much rather, there are none who are dead. Oh, how solemnly sometimes that thought comes up before us, that all those past generations which have stormed across this earth of ours, and then have fallen into still forgetfulness, live yet. Somewhere at this very instant, they now verily are! We say, they were, they have been. There are no have beens! Life is life for ever. To be is eternal being. Every man that has died is at this instant in the full possession of all his faculties, in the intensest exercise of all his capacities, standing somewhere in God's great universe, ringed with the sense of God's presence, and feeling in every fibre of his being that life, which comes after death, is not less real, but more real; not less great, but more great; not less full or intense, but more full and intense, than the mingled life which, lived here on earth, was a centre of life surrounded with a crust and circumference of mortality. The dead are the living. They lived whilst they died; and after they die, they live on for ever. And so we can look upon that ending of life, and say, "it is a very small thing; it only cuts off the fringes of my life, it does not touch me at all." It only plays round about the husk, and does not get at the core. It only strips off the circumferential mortality, but the soul rises up untouched by it, and shakes the bands of death from off its immortal arms, and flutters the stain of death from off its budding wings, and rises fuller of life because of death, and mightier in its vitality in the very act of submitting the body to the law, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Touching but a part of the being, and touching that but for a moment, death is no state, it is an act. It is not a condition, it is a transition. Men speak about life as "a narrow neck of land, betwixt two unbounded seas": they had better speak about death as that. It is an isthmus, narrow and almost impalpable, on which, for one brief instant, the soul poises itself; whilst behind it there lies the inland lake of past being, and before it the shoreless ocean of future life, all lighted with the glory of God, and making music as it breaks even upon these dark, rough rocks. Death is but a passage. It is not a house, it is only a vestibule. The grave has a door on its inner side. God has taken our dead to Himself, and we ought not to think (if we would think as the Bible speaks) of death as being anything else than the transitory thing which breaks down the brazen walls and lets us into liberty.

II. SINCE THEY HAVE DIED, THEY LIVE A BETTER LIFE THAN OURS. In what particulars is their life now higher than it was? First, they have close fellowship with Christ; then, they are separated from this present body of weakness, of dishonour, of corruption; then, they are withdrawn from all the trouble, and toil, and care of this present life; and then, and not least, surely, they have death behind them, not having that awful figure standing on their horizon waiting for them to come up with it I These are some of the elements of life of the sainted dead. What a wondrous advance on the life, of earth they reveal if we think of them I They who have died in Christ live a fuller and a nobler life, by the very dropping away of the body; a fuller and a nobler life by the very cessation of care, change, strife and struggle; and, above all, a fuller and nobler life, because they "sleep in Jesus," and are gathered into His bosom, and wake with Him yonder beneath the altar, clothed in white robes, and with palms in their hands, "waiting the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body." For though death be a progress — a progress to the spiritual existence; though death be a birth to a higher and nobler state; though it be the gate of life, fuller and better than any which we possess; though the present state of the departed in Christ is a state of calm blessedness, a state of perfect communion, a state of rest and satisfaction; yet it is not the final and perfect state, either.

III. THE BETTER LIFE, WHICH THE DEAD IN CHRIST ARE LIVING NOW, LEADS ON TO A STILL FULLER LIFE when they get back their glorified bodies. The perfection of man is, body, soul, and spirit. That is man, as God made him. The spirit perfected, the soul perfected, without the bodily life, is but part of the whole. For the future world, in all its glory, we have the firm basis laid that it, too, is to be in a real sense a material world, where men once more are to possess bodies as they did before, only bodies through which the spirit shall work conscious of no disproportion, bodies which shall be fit servants and adequate organs of the immortal souls within, bodies which shall never break down, bodies which shall never hem in nor refuse to obey the spirits that dwell in them, but which shall add to their power, and deepen their blessedness, and draw them closer to the God whom they serve and the Christ after the likeness of whose glorious body they are fashioned and conformed. "Body, soul, and spirit," — the old combination which was on earth is to be the perfect humanity of heaven. We have nothing to say, now and here, about what that bodily condition may be — about the differences and the identities between it and our present earthly house of this tabernacle. Only this we know — reverse all the weakness of flesh, and you get some faint notion of the glorious body. Why, then, seek the living among the dead? "God giveth His beloved sleep"; and in that peaceful sleep, realities, not dreams, come round their quiet rest, and fill their conscious spirits and their happy hearts with blessedness and fellowship.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE TENDENCY TO THINK OF CHRIST AS PAST RATHER THAN PRESENT.

1. In His work of redemption.

2. In His converting power.

3. In His Pentecostal influences.

4. In His administration of earthly affairs.

II. THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF THIS TENDENCY upon the Church, collectively and individually, when indulged.

1. It tends to the exaltation of the purely dogmatic over the practical and experimental confession of Christ.

2. It encourages the substitution of speculative theories of Christ's atoning work, for the actual power and continuance of that work itself in its application to human needs.

3. It deprives the Church of its great incentive to an active co-operation in the saving work of the Redeemer.

III. THE GROUNDS AND THE CONCLUSIONS of the higher and absolutely true view of Jesus Christ as personally present at all times with His people, in the power and richness of His Divine life. His promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." Observe therefore —

1. The necessity and comfort of habitually thinking of Christ as personally with us in the present varied needs and trials and duties of life.

2. The cheering prospect that death will only set us free, as it set Him free, from the restraints and limitations of this mixed world, and usher us into a state of boundless spiritual activity.

3. The uniqueness and authority of the gospel of Christ as the revelation of this life of the spirit, and as the power which can effectually save us from the fear and power of death.

(H. R. Harris.)

I. Christ is risen, and THE LAST OPPOSING MONARCHY HAS FALLEN. Death reigns no more. Sin has been vanquished by Christ's Cross, and the empire of the Prince of Darkness has been for ever destroyed.

II. He has risen, and His OWN DIVINE WORDS HAVE BEEN FULFILLED. Christ claimed to be supernatural in every sphere of being. Easter substantiates His claim to mastery over death. If this promise has been fulfilled, so will all others be.

III. He has risen, and THE DEAD HAVE NOT PERISHED. Personal immortality for each of us, and reunion with the loved and lost.

IV. Christ is risen, and NO LASTING CHRISTIAN CHURCH CAN REST ON A CLOSED TOMB.

(W. M. Statham, B. A.)

As the resurrection of Christ is believed chiefly on the authority of His disciples, it is desirable to inquire respecting the circumstances in which they spoke.

I. THEY DID NOT EXPECT THAT HE WOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD, NOR BELIEVE THAT HE HAD RISEN, EVEN WHEN IT WAS TOLD TO THEM.

II. THEY COULD GAIN NOTHING BY ASSERTING IT, IF IT WERE UNTRUE. As a consequence of declaring His resurrection, they could foresee only affliction, reproach, and death.

III. THE DISCIPLES WERE AS WELL QUALIFIED AS ANY OTHER MEN, TO KNOW WHETHER THE THINGS WHICH THEY AFFIRMED WERE SO. The subjects respecting which they testified were cognizable by the senses. Had they been dark, abstruse principles — had they been some rare phenomena in the material world, but removed from inspection by the several senses, there would have been reason for suspecting their capacity to know, and fully to comprehend them.

IV. CHRIST APPEARED TO THEM MANY TIMES. Not once or twice only, but so often as to leave no room for doubt.

V. There is one more circumstance which gives weight to the evidence that He had risen. This relates to THE MANNER IN WHICH HE AT VARIOUS TIMES APPEARED to His disciples and others, who were associated with Him. The circumstances in which men's imaginations are wrought into the belief that they have seen spirits, are very peculiar. Except in cases of disease, they are not infested with these unfounded notions in open day, and in the society of their friends. The regions of the dead, the burial places of our acquaintance, and the scenes of some tragical event, are the favoured retreats of these terrors. But never in the enjoyment of health, in open day, and amongst tried friends, have men been known to be afflicted by these creations of their own minds. Now, it was not in scenes like these that Christ appeared to His disciples. And in most of these circumstances it is utterly impossible for the imaginations of men to form images which they might mistake for living beings. Nothing but a living man could perform the various things which the disciples have attributed to Christ. In conclusion:

1. Christ's resurrection must have been a matter of great joy to His disciples. Now, instead of looking forward only to days of shame, and years of disgrace, they began to anticipate glory, and honour, and immortality.

2. The resurrection of Christ establishes the truth of Christianity.

3. The resurrection of Christ is a victory over the power of death.

4. If our resurrection be demonstrably established by the resurrection of Christ, it becomes us to be cautious how we use these bodies in the present life.

(J. Foot, D. D.)

1. In the fact of Christ's resurrection we have the great proof of His Divine mission, and a call to submit to Him as our teacher and Lord.

2. Let us improve this event as a demonstration that Christ's sacrifice was accepted, and an encouragement to trust in His righteousness for justification.

3. The resurrection of Christ is connected with the observance of the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath.

4. Let us see that this event has its proper purifying effect on our heart and conduct. We are called to be conformed to the image of Christ in general, and we are particularly called to be conformed to Him in His death and resurrection.

5. The resurrection of Jesus Christ presents the pattern and pledge of the happy and glorious resurrection of all His followers. There will be a resurrection "both of the just and of the unjust."

6. The resurrection of Christ should keep us in mind that we shall stand before Him as our judge.

(James Foote, M. A.)

But now it should be more carefully observed that this reminding the women of what had been said to them by Christ is probably but an example of what continually occurs in the ministration of angels. The great object of our discourse is to illustrate this ministration, to give it something of a tangible character; and we gladly seize on the circumstance of the angels recalling to the minds of the women things which had been heard, because it seems to place under a practical point of view what is too generally considered mere useless speculation. And though we do not indeed look for any precise repetition of the scene given in our text, for angels do not now take visible shapes in order to commune with men, we know not why we should not ascribe to angelic ministration facts accurately similar, if not as palpable, proceeding from supernatural agency. We think that we shall be borne out by the experience of every believer in Christ when we affirm that texts of Scripture are often suddenly and mysteriously brought into the mind, texts which have not perhaps recently engaged our attention, but which are most nicely suited to our circumstances, or which furnish most precisely the material then needed by our wants. There will enter into the spirit of a Christian, on whom has fallen some unexpected temptation, a passage of the Bible which is just as a weapon wherewith to foil his assailant; or, if it be an unlooked-for difficulty into which he is plunged, the occurring verses will be those best adapted for counsel and guidance; or, if it be some fearful trouble with which he is visited, then will there pass through all the chambers of the sou] gracious declarations which the inspired writers will seem to have uttered and registered on purpose for himself. And it may be that the Christian will observe nothing peculiar in this; there may appear to him nothing but an effort of memory, roused and acted on by the circumstances in which he is placed; and he may consider it as natural that suitable passages should throng into his mind, as that he should remember an event at the place where he knows it to have happened. But let him ask himself whether he is not, on the other hand, often conscious of the intrusion into his soul of what is base and defiling? Whether, if he happen to have heard the jeer and the blasphemy, the parody on sacred things, or the insult upon moral, they will not be frequently recurring to his mind? recurring, too, at moments when there is least to provoke them, and when it had been most his endeavour to gather round him an atmosphere of what is sacred and pure. And we never scruple to give it as a matter of consolation to a Christian, harassed by these vile invasions of his soul, that he may justly ascribe them to the agency of the devil; wicked angels inject into the mind the foul and polluting quotation; and there is not necessarily any sin in receiving it, though there must be if we give it entertainment in place of casting it instantly out. But why should we be so ready to go for explanation to the power of memory, and the force of circumstances, when apposite texts occur to the mind, and then resolve into Satanic agency the profanation of the spirit with what is blasphemous and base. It were far more consistent to admit a spiritual influence in the one case as well as in the other; to suppose that, if evil angels syllable to the soul what may have been heard or read of revolting and impure, good angels breathe into its recesses the sacred words, not perhaps recently perused, but which apply most accurately to our existing condition. We do not wish to draw you away, in the least degree, from the truth that "the eternal uncreated Spirit of God alone, the Holy Ghost, is the author of our sanctification, the infuser into us of the principle of Divine life, and He only is able to overrule our wills, to penetrate the deepest secrets of our hearts, and to rectify our most inward faculties." But surely it does not infringe the office of the Holy Ghost to suppose, with Bishop Bull, that "good angels may, and often do, as instruments of the Divine goodness, powerfully operate upon our fancies and imaginations, and thereby prompt us to pious thoughts, affections, and actions." They were angels, as you will remember, which came and ministered to our Lord after He had been exposed in the wilderness to extraordinary assaults from the devil. He had the Spirit without measure; but, nevertheless, as though to mark to us the agency which this Spirit is often pleased to employ, it was in and through angels that consolation was imparted; even as, in the dread hour of His last conflict with the powers of darkness, "there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him." Not only, therefore, can I regard it as credible that angels stir up our torpid memories and bring truths to our recollection, as they did to the women at the sepulchre of Christ — I can rejoice in it as fraught with consolation, because showing that a created instrumentality is used by the Holy Ghost in the renewing our nature. And surely it may well excite gladness that there is around the Christian the guardianship of heavenly hosts; that, whilst his pathway is thronged by malignant spirits, whose only effort is to involve him in their everlasting shame, it is also thronged by ministers of grace, who long to have him as their companion in the presence of God; for there is thus what we might almost dare to call a visible array of power on our side, and we may take all that confidence which should result from being actually permitted to look on the antagonists, and to see that there are more with us than there are against. But it is hardly possible to read these words of the angels and not to feel how reproachfully they must have fallen on the ears of the women! how they must have upbraided them with want of attention and of faith. For had they but listened heedfully to what Christ had said, and had they but given due credence to His words, they would have come in triumph to welcome the living, in place of mournfully with spices to embalm the dead. But God dealt more graciously with these women than their inattention, or want of faith, had deserved; He caused the words to be brought to their remembrance, whilst they might yet inspire confidence, though they could hardly fail also to excite bitter contrition.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

A rising Saviour demands a rising life. For remember, brethren, there are two laws. One law, by which all men gravitate, like a stone, to the earth — another law, equally strong, the law of grace, by which every renewed man is placed under the attractive influence of an ascending power, by which he must be always drawn higher and higher. For just as when a man, lying upon the ground, gets up and stands upright, his upright posture draws up with it all his limbs, so in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, the risen Head necessarily draws up all the mystical members. The process of elevation is one which, beginning at a man's conversion to God, goes on day by day, hour by hour, in his tastes, in his judgments, in his affections, in his habits. First it is spiritual, then it is material. Now, in the rising spirit of the man, first he sees higher and higher elevations of being, and gradually fits for the fellowship of the saints and the presence of God. And presently, on that great Easter morning of the resurrection, in his restored body, when it shall wake up, and rise satisfied with its Redeemer's likeness, made pure and ethereal enough to soar, and blend and co-operate with the spirit in all its holy and eternal exercises. But what I wish to impress upon you now is, that this series in the ever-ascending scale begins now; that there is, as every believer fee]s, a daily dying, so there is also, as our baptism tells us, a daily resurrection. It is always well to take advantage of particular seasons to do particular proper things. Now to-day the proper thing is to rise, to get up higher. This Easter day ought not to pass without every one of us beginning with some new affection, some new work.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

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