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For we know that, if our earthly house of
this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight :) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
In the preceding chapter we have an interesting and affecting contrast between the outward trials and inward supports of the apostles. “We are troubled on every « side,” says Paul,“ yet not distressed; we “ are perplexed, but not in despair ; perse“ cuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but “ not destroyed.” All these trials, he assures the Corinthian believers, and through them other believers, were for their sakes, “ that the abundant grace might, through the “thanksgiving of many, redound to the “ glory of God.” The supports which they experienced under these, sprung from this great truth, that “ their light afflictions,
which were but for a moment, should
“ work out for them a far more exceeding “and eternal weight of glory; because they có looked not at the things which are seen " which are temporal; but at the things “which are not seen which are eternal.” · As the principle which influenced the conduct of the apostles, was the same with that which governs all believers, so we find, that the same truth which supported them in their trials, possesses equal power to comfort and strengthen these under all the sufferings, however great and frightful to natural feeling, which their Heavenly Father dispenses to them. Afflictions of every kind, by the tenor of the covenant of grace, are sanctified to the followers of Christ, so as to render them more meet for the heavenly inheritance. On this inheritance, this future good, this exceeding and eternal weight of glory, the apostle dwells with fondness and perseverance in the text, unfolding its nature; the manner in which believers regard it; the ground which they have for expecting it; and the effects of such expectation upon their conduct. To these subjects of discussion your attention is solicited on this occasion.
1. We shall illustrate the nature of that exceeding and eternal weight of glory, of which the apostle speaks. This is described in the following parts of the text: “ If our earthly house of this tabernacle “ were dissolved, we have a building of “ God, an house not made with hands, “ eternal in the heavens--clothed upon s with our house which is from heaven: if “ so be that being clothed, we shall not be “ found naked-clothed upon, that morta“ lity might be swallowed up of life--ab< sent from the body, and present with the 66 Lord.”
The language used, you observe, is figurative, and some of it obscure. Our body, here called “ this tabernacle,” in which our souls reside, is compared to “ an earthly house,” which in time must dissolve, i. e. be destroyed. In contrast to this, mention is made of “a building of God, an house not “made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” As this house must correspond with the constitution of man, it includes in it,
The state of the souls of believers after death, and that of their bodies after the resurrection.
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257 This house from heaven, is represented as the clothing of believers, after their earthly house is dissolved, by which we are taught that their souls do not sleep after death in a state of insensibility, and that their bodies are not annihilated by death, The former, though “ absent from the body, * are present with the Lord.” The latter will exist in another state, though in a different form ; for, as it is afterward explained,“ mortality shall be swallowed up “ of life;" or, as this same apostle expresses himself in another place, “this corruptible “must put on incorruption, and this mortal “ must put on immortality.” Thus clothed upon, believers shall not be found“ naked," i. e. destitute of happiness, or exposed to misery.
From this brief explanation of the apostle's metaphorical language, the conclusion is evident, that the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, of which he speaks, includes in it every thing that relates to the perfect happiness of a believer's person and state after death. To be convinced of this, we need only for a moment attend to the contrast which he exhibits between the VOL. II.