“He is not here; for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matt. 28:6.
We infer, that if Christ was thus raised from the dead, then death is fairly overcome, and swallowed up in victory. Were it not so, it had never let Christ escape out of the grave. The prey of the terrible had never been thus rescued out of its paws. Death is a dreadful enemy, it defies all the sons and daughters of Adam. None durst cope with this king of terrors but Christ, and he, by dying, went into the very den of this dragon, fought with it, and foiled it in the grave, its own territories and dominions, and came off a conqueror. For, as the apostle speaks, Acts 2:24. “It was impossible it should hold or detain him.” Never did death meet with its over match before it met with Christ, and he conquering it for us, and in our names, rising as our representative, now every single saint triumphs over it as a vanquished enemy, 1 Cor. 15:55. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus, like Joshua, they set the foot of faith upon the neck of that king, and, with an holy scorn, deride its power. “O death, where is thy sting?” If it be objected that it is said, 1 Cor. 15: 26. “The last enemy that is to be destroyed is death.” And if so, then it should seem the victory is not yet achieved, and so we do but boast before the victory; it is at hand to reply that the victory over death, obtained by Christ’s resurrection, is twofold, either personal and incomplete, or general and complete. He actually overcame it at his resurrection, in his own person, perfectly and virtually for us, as our head; but at the general resurrection of the saints (which his resurrection, as the first-fruits, assures them of) then it will be utterly vanquished and destroyed. Till then, it will exercise some little power over the bodies of the saints, in which respect it is called the last enemy. For sin, the chief enemy that let it in, that was conquered utterly and eradicated when they died; but death holds their bodies in the grave till the coming of Christ, and then it is utterly to be vanquished. For after that they can die no more, 1 Cor. 15:54. “And then shall be brought to pass that saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Then, and not till then, will that conquest be fully completed in our persons, though it be already so in Christ’s; now incompletely in ours, and then completely and fully for ever. For the same word which signifies victory does also signify perpetuity, and in this place a final or perpetual conquest. And, indeed, now it smites only with its dart, not with its sting, and that but the believer’s body only, and the body but for a time remains under it neither. So that there is no reason why a believer should stand in a slavish fear of it. Isaac Ambrose