Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

gion,ếto endeavour to bring the spiritually dead to a sense of their danger;—to instruct the dull, the prejudiced, the unbelieving;—and frequently from all these classes to meet with ingratitude in return for our exertions: these things are for the present not joyous but grievous. But the dead REST from all this.

In the next place it is a rest from sin—which rest must be one of the most blessed sources of enjoyment to a renewed spirit. He rests from sin outwardly, since he no longer is doomed to dwell with those who vex his righteous soul from day to day by their ungodliness: "there the wicked cease from troubling:"h there “the Lord hides him in His tabernacle from the strise of tongues."i And he rests from the conflict with sin inwardly. For though whilst in the flesh he is able through grace, to enjoy a dominion over sin, so that he does not obey it in the lusts thereof; yet he is continually galled and annoyed by its inward emotions. Sometimes when he would enjoy spiritual things, his soul cleaveth to the dust;-when he would do good, he finds evil present with him, (in his motives and tempers perhaps,) and he groans in this body of death being burdened. But, when he dies, he rests from all his warfare, and from his fears, and doubts, and prejudices, and jealousies, and is borne by the angels to the general assembly of the spirits

of the just.

ESSAY IX.

The Resurrection State.

In my last Essay I adverted to the circumstance, that some Christians discourage inquiry concerning the glorified condition of the saints, as if nothing were specifically revealed concerning it: and I may add, that there are two passages of Scripture frequently brought forward, as proof that we cannot arrive at any satisfactory knowledge on these points. These passages I shall first notice.

The one is 1st Cor. ii. 9_"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” This text is quoted by the Apostle from Isaiah Ixiv. 4, to shew how it had come to pass, that the wise and mighty of this had crucified the Lord of glory, because they did not understand the mysteries of redemption. I need not stay to inquire, whether the things, here said to have been withheld from the perception of man, were the gracious truths and mysteries connected with the present state of salvation, or if they related only to a glorified condition in heaven or on earth: it is sufficient to observe, that the next verse clearly proves these things, whatsoever they may be, TO BE REVEALED under the Gospel to the spiritual man, and only veiled from the eye and the ear and the heart of the natural man.--"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (v. 10.)

h Job iii. 17.

i Ps. xxxi. 26.

The other place is 1 John iii. 2_“It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” There is in the context of this passage sufficient to lead one to the conclusion, that we do not apprehend it rightly, if we would so interpret it as to say, we know nothing about our future state. For is it not therein declared, that we are sons of God, and that we shall be like Christ at his appearing?

A careful consideration of the Greek text will I think satisfy the reader, that the Apostle means not to say, that it has never been declared what we shall be; seeing that he himself also does declare it in this very place: but that what we shall be hath not yet appeared; (that is, the glorified God-man, our great exemplar hath not yet appeared;) but that when he shall

appear we shall be like him.* Thus in Col. iii. 4, we read _“When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye

also appear with him in glory." Whatsoever therefore is declared of the glorified manhood of the Lord Jesus at the time of his appearing, of that we may conclude the saints will be partakers; and thus the text, instead of being opposed to the inquiry, would really form an ample foundation on which to raise it.

I proceed now to the more immediate consideration of the resurrection state itself.

I. It is pretty generally acknowledged among Christians, that the grand purpose of God in redemption is to make such an exhibition of certain of his attributes, as could not otherwise be properly conceived of. It is not sufficient, either for men or angels, that Jehovah should be proclaimed as "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness, &c.;" he will be known as such by his actings, so that the universe may have experimental evidence of this blessed and glorious truth. I pass however from the general

* Ουπω εφανερωθη τι εσομεθα· οιδαμεν δε ότι αν φανερωθη όμοιοι αυτο σομεθα. There is an evident connexion and identity here between that which is the nominative 10 spævepwon (whatever it may be) and the nominative to pavepmon and the antecedent of αυτω. .

consideration of this point, to its particular bearing on redeemed man, which is not, I think, so commonly dwelt upon.

For aught we know to the contrary, angels had never witnessed an example of the justice and severity of God, until the angels that rebelled were hurled down to hell. But in regard to the rebellion of man, the principalities and powers in heavenly places are to behold a display of the mercy and goodness and love of God: not such a mere ordinary instance of these qualities, as shall only prove that they are divine; but such an exhibition of them as shall be worthy of JEHOVAH, affording the most wonderful and exalted specimen of these attributes. this end man is permitted to fall, and so to fall, that he becomes lower, if possible, than the angels that rebelled; being “earthly and sensual" as well as "devilish," and thus as it were two-fold more the child of hell than his deceiver. But God will not only pardon him, and reinstate him in his former condition of happiness; but he hath determined to lavish on him the riches of grace and glory. As we read of the eastern monarchs sometimes raising men, according to the pleasure of their will, from very lowly circumstances, treating them as special favourites, exalting them among all other princes, presidents and rulers, and sending them forth as those whom the king delighteth to honour;" so the Lord Jehovah hath purposed to raise up man as a beggar from the dung-hill, to receive him to his own bosom, to dwell and walk with him as his friend and familiar, to exalt him in dignity above the angels, giving him to inherit all things as his portion.

It will, I trust, be readily admitted, that these things are true concerning the man Christ Jesus: would that they were as fully believed in regard to the elect of God in general! I am persuaded that we should find this blessed expectation most influential in stirring us up to walk worthy of our high vocation. But so wonderfully is the love of God above all that we can ask or think, that the saints in every age have need to pray, “that, the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, they may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."

It may be well, however, before I proceed to prove these things of the redemed in general, to instance two or three testimonies concerning Christ. As Jesus declares that the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son, because he is the Son of Man; so St. Paul asserts, that all things are put under him, He only excepted which did put all things under him. In Ephesians we are told, that God hath raised him far above all

a Rom. ix. 23; Ephes. i. 7, 18; ii. 7; iii. 16; Phil. iv. 19. b 1 Sam. ii. 8. cCompare John'v. vv. 22 and 27. d 1 Cor. xv. 27, 28.

[ocr errors]

principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all under his feet.” In Philippians again we read, “that God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, &c." And once more it is written, “that God hath appointed him heir of all things;—that he is made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they: for unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come whereof we speak; but one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man that thou art mindful of him? Thou madest him a little [while] lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.”g Every one acquainted with Scripture must be aware, how readily these passages might be multiplied: and I trust none will be disposed to contend that they relate to the divine nature of our Lord; since it were absurd to make the circumstances, that he should be above the angels, and inherit all things, the subject of prophecy or promise in regard to his deity.

Now it is clear to my mind, from the obvious tenor of the Scriptures, that, in this exaltation and glory of the manhood of Christ, the saints are to have a direct participation. This may be made evident, first, from a due consideration of one or two of the figures under which they are frequently spoken of in their relationship to Jesus. For example, they are sthe body of Christ;b and it is difficult to imagine how honour can be put upon the head, unless the members also are made partakers of it. Again, they are “the brideor spouse of Christ, whom he nourisheth and cherisheth as his own flesh, and of whose honour he is jealous.i And it is manifest, that when a man is raised to regal dignity, his wife is likewise elevated to the throne; and her lord would resent an indignity or slight offered to his consort, the same as if offered to himself. This latter figure will further serve to point out one important distinction as to the relative degree of glory to be respectively enjoyed by Christ and the saints; for a queen, though she share immediately in all the pre-eminence and splendour and greatness enjoyed by her husband, does nevertheless possess it subordinate to him. It becomes his by inheritance, perhaps, or by conquest: it is hers rather as it is reflected on her by him. She can lay no claim to it in her own right, separate from her lord;

e Ephes. i. 20—22. f Phil. ii. 9–11. & See the whole of chapters i. and ii. b Ephes. i. 23. i Ephes. v. 23–33.

and she enjoys it only because he has set his love upon her, and called her to come and share in his glory.

But these things are not merely to be inferred from types and figures, but are declared in more plain and absolute terms. I have shewn in Essays No. V. and VII. that the saints are to sit down in the throne with Christ, and to participate in the judgment; but some of the things also which are alleged in Scripture to prove this great pre-eminence of Christ, are in other places spoken in respect to the saints. Is the exaltation of Jesus above the angels argued from the circumstance, that God hath never said to one of them, Thou art my Son?) “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God! Beloved now are we the sons of God." Again, is Jesus, being the Son, “appointed heir of all things?"L_So the Apostle argues of the saints, “that if children, then heirs—HEIRS of God, and JOİNTHEIRS with Christ! if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together!"m_"He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."'n I cannot take these things as mere rhetorical flourishes, spoken without any definite meaning: I view them as blessed and glorious realities, not one jot or tittle of which shall fail: and therefore I cannot conceive, how the saints can be "predestinated to the adoption of children, and made "joint-heirs with Christ,” unless they stand in the next immediate gradation to him in rank and privilege and glory in the kingdom of their Father. For this purpose they are made “to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the EXCEEDING RICHES of his grace in his kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus.” I know not how others who can receive and realize these truths are affected by them: as for me, though they excite my joy and wonder, yet they fill me with self-loathing and abasement.

Before I quit this part of my subject I may here anticipate one particular concerning the enjoyments of the saints; which is, that their experience does in many respects increase their capacity for spiritual bliss, above that of the angels. According to our present apprehensions, the measure of our spiritual happiness is proportionable to the measure of love shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Love is indeed the very essence of the divine nature;P conformity to which, beyond a question, constitutes our ability to taste of divine bliss. But then our love towards God depends on our sense of the extent of God's love and condescension towards us; especially in the

i Heb. i. 5. k ] John iii. 1, 2. 1 Heb. i. 2. m Rom. viii. 17. o Rev. xxi. 7. • Ephes. ii. 6, 7. p1 John iv. 16.

1

« AnteriorContinuar »