« ZurückWeiter »
militant and triumphant saint. The former has a house properly called a tabernacle, either in reference to the Jewish tabernacle, which was a moving temple, or to the tent of a soldier, a shepherd, or traveller, and denotes its frailty and liability to changes. The latter has a building, a name expressive of majesty, loftiness, and grandeur, and therefore not given to mean structures. The house of the former is earthly, made of the dust, sustained by the fruits of the earth, and abiding upon it. That of the latter is in the hearens, in the immediate presence and full enjoyment of the favour of the Lord God and of the Lamb, with all the blessings of the society above. The house of the former must be dissolved; it will crumble into dust, and mingle with its kindred elements. That of the latter is eternal, subject to no vicissitudes nor termination. How great the difference! On the one side are imperfection, frailty, uncertainty, death : on the other, purity, stability, eternal health, and immortal life.
Let us for a moment attend to those particulars which the apostle suggests, as belonging to the believer's future happiness.
1. Whenever he is dismissed from the body, he is admitted to the presence of his Lord. His soul exists in a disembodied state until the morning of the resurrection. - Qf such a state we have satisfactory proof in the Word of God. Christ, in rebuking the Sadducees, quotes God's declaration, “ I am the God of Abraham, and the God * of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;” and then adds, “ God is not the God of the “ dead, but of the living.” The patriarchs must, therefore, have lived in a separate state. Christ told the thief on the cross, “ This day shalt thou be with me in para“ dise,” which can be explained in no other way, than by the doctrine of a separate state. If this doctrine be not true, how can the apostle be justified in saying, that for him it was far better to depart and to be with Christ. And in the text, the words « absent from the body, and present with “ the Lord,” necessarily require the admission of the doctrine. Besides the authority of Scripture, we cannot imagine, “that a • soul, which carries with it into the other “ world a promise of inheriting all things, " that is the offspring of God in its spiritual
“ nature and holy quality, that is united to “ its head Christ Jesus, Lord of all the “ upper world, that this soul should be a “ vagabond spirit, without house and home, " as it must needs be, if upon the dissolution “ of this tabernacle, it does not enter some “ building of God.” It enters into a state as blessed as it can enjoy, disunited from the body. It is made perfect, and tastes the pure and unalloyed happiness springing from its inheritance in light. .
2. At the resurrection the bodies of the saints will be made like unto Christ's most glorious body.
The same body which was sown in corruption shall be raised in incorruption; which was sown in weakness shall be raised in power ; which was sown in dishonour, shall be raised in glory; which was sown an earthly, shall be raised an heavenly body; which was sown a natural, shall be raised a spiritual body. There will be a total and eternal freedom from all weakness, decay, suffering, or imperfection in the body. It will be no more liable to sickness, sorrow, pain, corruption, weakness, or death; for it will no more be
o Gravener’s Sermon, Evangelical Preacher, vol. ii. p. 400.
the same crazy, tottering, troublesome body that we now carry about with us. The saints awaking from the dust, shall be satisfied with their likeness to Christ. Their spirits will be united to such bodies, bodies fitted for their reception by the process of corruption, and the quickening power of His Spirit, who is the resurrection and the life. In soul and body they will enter into the possession of the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, allotted unto them by their Father. These two parts of our constitution will resume their influence upon each other: but that influence will be exercised in promoting their blessedness and glory. There will be no law in the members of the one warring against the law of the other ; but a perfect harmony, which will produce corresponding effects.
3. At the final account saints will not be found naked.
They will be separated from the wicked, and put in possession of complete happiness of body, soul, and state, without apprehension of its diminution or decay. The faculties of the soul will be enlarging in their power and expansion ; the powers of the
body in their activity and capacity for usefulness; the state of the beatified believers constantly improving in every thing that is interesting to holy beings. This enlargement of the faculties of the soul and powers of the body, together with this improvement in their state, will be unchangeable, subject to no diminution, no alloy, no interruption.
II. The manner in which believers regard this exceeding and eternal weight of glory, is now to be explained.
The apostle describes it in these words : “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring “ to be clothed upon”_“ for we that are in “ this tabernacle do groan, being burdened : “ not for that we would be unclothed”“ therefore we are always confident”—“ we “ are confident and willing rather to be “ absent from the body, and to be present “ with the Lord.” Three things here demand our attention.
1. Believers are willing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.
That fear of death, that reluctance to leave this world which is natural to us as sinful men, are both destroyed in them. They are thoroughly reconciled to this