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whose strength is our boast, and whose beauty is our pride, will soon be reduced to deformity, impotence and dust-will soon be mixed and confused with common earth.
Do you glory in your parentage—in your possessions? Do you despise others as being, in these respects, your inferiors ? What are the things in which you glory? Are your bodies made of better clay? Were they better moulded ? Are they less frailless liable to dissolution ? Is not your property collected from earth? Does it not grow out of dust ? May it not soon become dust and be scattered with the wind ? What preeminence have you above them? The grave is the place for all-all were made
The apostle calls the body a house—but he corrects and qualifies the term, as if it were too favorable to be applied to a mortal body. He signifies that it is a tent rather than a house—“Our earthly house of this tabernacle."
The body is rather a temporary lodging, than a real habitation for the soul. It is called a tabernacle, because it is moveable. It is, like a tent, to be carried from place to place, as occasion may require. We have here no abiding city-no permanent habitation. This is a world full of change. We often change the place of our abode. Or if we dwell in the same place, our condition is changing. Our bodies are decaying with age. Our property may be wasted by the events of time. Our friends are leaving us and going down to the grave.
A tent is so slightly compacted that it may easily be taken to pieces. Our bodies were not built for ages, but only for a few days. Hence their frame is weak and tender.
A tent is not a fixed habitation, but an occasional shelter. Such is the body. Soon we must quit our present tabernacle, for a more permanent abode.
A tabernacle denotes a state of pilgrimage. We are strangers and pilgrims on earth. We are at a distance from our proper home. We are exposed to many inconveniences and trials. But we are on our homeward journey. We hope, by and by, to find better accommodations. If we say, we are pilgrims, we declare plainly that we seek a heavenly country. Let us keep this in our eye, and be careful that we mniss not our way, nor loiter on our journey. Our time makes progress; let us make progress in holiness, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling.
Tents are lodgings for soldiers. By this name christians are called. We are acting in a military character. Let us behave as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Take 10 us the whole armor of God-watch against a surprize—quit ourselves like men and be strong-fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life.
To finish the description of our present mortal state, the apostle says, “ These tents shall be dissolved.”
In the future state, after some distant period, we shall resume these bodies; or receive bodies made of the same materials of which these were made.
But they must first be dissolved-must be reduced to their first principles-must be new-moulded, and wrought up and fashioned in a different manner. That which is sown a natural body, must be raised a spiritual body, that it may be fitted for its new station. Flesh and blood, in their present state, cạnnot inherit the kingdom of God.
Dissolution is the fate appointed for all, except those who shall be found alive at the coming of Christ. They will undergo an instantaneous change in their mortal frame, probably resembling in some respects the change of death. It will be death and the resurrection in the same moment. It will be putting off this earthly tabernacle and putting on the spiritual house at the same time, without a perceptible interval.
These earthly bodies, these material houses, are so constructed, that they cannot long weather out the storms which beat upon them. They need frequent repairs, and no repairs can preserve them long. Their joints will be loosed, their bands will be broken, their whole frame will tumble into ruins. This is their unavoidable fate, though no violence should befall them. But innumerable casualties threaten them, by any of which their structure may be demolished. Such is our frailty in the present state.
Let us consider,
II. The description, by which the apostle contrasts the heavenly with the earthly state. “We have a building of God, an house notmade with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
The apostle may here be supposed to refer to the spiritual, incorruptible, glorious body, with which the saints will be clothed at the resurrection of the just. This stands in a natural opposition to our earthly house of this tabernacle. This vile body will then be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body according to that mighty power by which he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Or, it may rather refer to the heavenly state in general, which in scripture is called the house of God, and a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. In either view, the contrast between our present and our future house, is. striking.
Here our house is but a tent; but when this is dissolved, we shall have a house worthy of the name—a proper—a settled, immoveable abode. Our Lord says to his disciples, “ In my Father's house are many, mansions—I go to prepare a place for you." “While we are at home in the body," says the apostle, “ we are absent from the Lord; we desire rather to be absent from the body, and at home with the Lord.” Here we are strangers and sojourners, having no certain dwelling place. There we shall receive a city which cannot be moved; we shall be fixed as pillars in the temple of God, and go no more out.
Here we sojourn in tents of earthly materials. Hereafter we shall have a building in heaven, not earthly and corruptible, but spiritual and incorruptible—a house not exposed to the violence of storms and the injuries of accidents, but situated in a peaceful region, where it will stand secure and unmolested.
These tabernacles are to be dissolved. Our house in the heavens will be eternal-subject to no decay and needing no repair. The mansion will never be taken down, or the inhabitant removed. The place is not only purchased, but prepared by the Redeemerand it is well prepared. . He has left nothing undone, which needed to be done. It is incorruptible, undefiled, undecaying, reservod in heaven for them who love his appearing.
Pious souls sojourn here as in a strange country, dwelling in tents, as was said of the patriarchs. But they have the promise of a city which hath foundations-of a kingdom which cannot be moved. When they shall have finished their pilgrimage, they will receive the promise of an eternal inheritance.
The heavenly habitation is said to be a building of God-an house not made with hands.
Our present houses of clay are, indeed, the work of God. He hath made us, and not we ourselves. But our house in heaven is called the building of God, by way of eminence. It is a most glorious work of God-a work of which there can be no exact pattern on earth. St. John, describing the glories of the heavenly state, borrows from nature and from art, the richest, purest and grandest images. But all these fall short of the reality. For he adds, The glory of God doth lighten it, and it hath no need of the sun. It cannot now appear, what we shall be when we arrive there. For it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive tie things, which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Heaven may be called a building of God, to signify, that it is a place where God himself dwells in a peculiar manner. God's essential presence is universal. It is confined to no place. He is a God at hand and a God afar off. The heavens, even the heaven of heavens cannot contain him. But we may collect from scripture that there is a place in the universe, where he manifests his glory in a special and peculiar manner-in such a manner as it is manifested in no other place. There the angels worship himthere the spirits of just men will be admitted to behold his majesty--there the blessed Jesus sits enthroned in his own glory and the glory of the Father. Our Saviour says, In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.
St. John, in his vision, heard a voice out of heaven, saying, “ The tabernacle of God is with men and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and he shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their
eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, for the former things are passed away.” This imports the great happiness and glory, which holy souls shall enjoy in heaven. When these their earthly tabernacles shall be dissolved, they will be received into a building of God-into God's own house. When they are absent from the body, they will be at home with the Lord. What greater felicity can be imagined, than to dwell in God's immediate presence. In the expectation of this happiness, the Psalmist says, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness. Thou wilt guide me by thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.
How different is our present state from the state which we have in prospect? Here we sojourn in earthly houses—in move, able tents, soon to be dissolved. Here we are subject to sorrow and pain-sickness and death. There we expect to dwell in a building of God-in his glorious presence, and to enjoy a fulness of all that we can desire, without interruption and without fear of change.
Let us withdraw our affections from this world and direct them to a better state. Let us seek the things which are above, where Christ sitieth on the right hand of God. Let us secure a title to the inheritance of the saints in light.
Let us examine the ground of our hopes. Let us enquire whether our souls are prepared for the enjoyments of the future world-whether we have any anticipations of those enjoyments now-whether our heaven is already begun in communion with God, in the love of his worship, in a conformity to the mind that is in Christ, and in benevolence to our fellow-men and in affection to our christian brethren.
Let us often consider, to whom we are indebted for these glorious prospects. It is Jesus the Son of God, who has opened heaven for our reception and has marked the course in which we may arrive thither. He has suffered on the cross the effects of God's wrath against the sins of men, that they might be delivered from the wrath to come. He has abolished death and brought