April 17—Morning Devotion
“The Lord is risen indeed.”—Luke 24:34
Let thy meditations, my soul, this morning, be sweetly exercised upon thy risen and exalted Saviour. For if thy Lord be indeed risen, then will it undeniably follow, that as he died for our sins, so he arose for our justification, and is thereby become the first fruits 0f them that sleep. Beg of God the Holy Ghost to lead thee into the devout contemplation and enjoyment of this soul-reviving subject. Trace the testimonies of this wonderful event, until, frown being overpowered in the vast assemblage of witnesses, thou art prompted to cry out in the same language,” the Lord is risen indeed. “And surely never was there any one fact so fully, so dearly, and so circumstantially confirmed. It hath the united testimony of heaven and earth: of angels and men, of the living and the dead, of friends and foes; and God himself confirming it in the midst of his people, by sending down the Holy Ghost agreeably to the promise of Jesus at the day of Pentecost. Review these things in order. First, heaven gave in its evidence in those supernatural signs which issued in the morning of Jesus’s resurrection; for we are told that “an angel descended from heaven, and rolled back the stone from the door of Jesus’s sepulchre, and sat upon it.” And, secondly, earth gave her testimony also to the same, by the convulsions sustained at his approach—”there was a great earthquake. “And then again, as angels came to inform the pious women who waited to embalm the sacred body of Christ, that Jesus was risen; so the testimony of multitudes among men gave equal attestation to this glorious truth. For besides the many separate and distinct appearances Jesus made to numbers, he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, by way of confirming the undoubted fact. The living, who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead, surely could not be mistaken. And the dead which arose from their graves, as if to celebrate the glories of his resurrection, in which they took part, came forth when the sepulchre yawned at the triumph of Jesus, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many. And not only the friends of Jesus, but the foes of Jesus, became undesignedly the witnesses of this great truth: for, by attributing his resurrection to the disciples stealing away his body, they positively proved that the body of Christ remained not in the sepulchre. And that the poor timid disciples whose meetings were all in secret for fear of the Jews, should project such a scheme as to take away the body, which the Roman soldiers were purposely placed to secure, is not to be equaled in folly in the very idea, unless by that other part of the childish story, that the body was stolen while the guard slept, that so the testimony, it should seem, to this tale, is the testimony of men sleeping. Here then, my soul, in devout contemplation, take thy stand at the door of the sepulchre of thy Jesus, and ponder over such a multitude of witnesses, who all cry out with one voice, as the angels did to the astonished women,” He is not here; for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” And O thou dear Redeemer, do thou, while my soul is pondering these things, do thou draw nigh, as thou didst to the disciples on the morning of thy resurrection, and sweetly commune with me of all these blessed truths concerning thyself; lead me, by faith, through all the precious subject, from the sepulchre to thine house of prayer, to the ordinance and thy table, from thy cross to thy crown; and cause my whole heart to burn within me, while thou art talking to me by the way, and while thou art opening to me the scriptures. Then shall I truly rejoice that my Lord is indeed risen from the dead, and my soul is risen with him, from dead works, to serve thee, the living and true God.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."