Wednesday, September 14, 2011

this side the grave...

Ephraim Peabody, often excerpted in these pages, has been my companion the past two or three weeks and a valuable companion he has been. This from his sermon "Eternal Life" (to be continued the next couple of days)


Here is stated the great end of our Saviour's mission. And yet one is tempted to say, that there is no important subject of which the Gospel treats to which a less heedful attention has been given, than its doctrine of Life.
What was the life which Christ came to impart? The common answer is, The assurance of existence beyond the grave. And certainly he gave this assurance ; and no words can overstate its importance. And yet, though of infinite moment, it was the least essential part of Christ's doctrine.
The misapprehensions respecting this subject have arisen from neglecting the two entirely different senses in which the word is used, — the distinction between the life which Christ came to reveal and the life he came to awaken. He revealed an unending life beyond the grave. But far more than this, and what he dwells on as the chief thing, he came to awaken the Eternal Life in the soul. The nature of this life, the mode in which it is awakened, its relations of dependence on Christ and on God, constitute the great theme of the Gospel. Let us, confining ourselves to a single point, endeavor to gain some definite idea of what our Saviour taught respecting its nature.
In the first place, the life which Christ came to impart is a life which may be possessed and enjoyed in this world: " I am come that men may have life, and have it more abundantly." This describes something very different from the mere revelation of a future state of existence. For his coming was in no sense the cause of man's existence. Again, he makes a distinction between the assurance of a future state, and the life which he imparts, when he says, " I am the resurrection and the life." The resurrection may be unto death, whereas he who believeth in me shall never die. " If a man keep my sayings, he shall never taste of death." The wicked share in the common resurrection to a future existence. But they are never spoken of as possessing the eternal life. The murderer is to exist hereafter, but the words are, " No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him "; thus showing, that by the phrase " eternal life " something very different is meant from simply eternal existence. In spite of that existence, " the wages of sin is death," but the gift of God is "eternal life." Or, among numberless other passages bearing on the same point, take the single decisive declaration, " He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." He already hath the everlasting life. The phrase is remarkable. And, in order to leave no room for misconception, he adds, " And is passed from death unto life." The death from which Christ came to deliver man is one which may thus fall on him while he lives in the body, and the life which he came to impart, the eternal life, the everlasting life, may begin this side the grave."


No comments: