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new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. He will gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. "O Death! he will be thy plagues. O Grave! he will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from his eyes." "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So Wiiqii this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory i The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ"
III. His final Destiny. "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Three things are observable.
First The subject changed. "This vile body." Much of the wisdom and power of God is displayed in the formation of the human frame. And when we consider the multiplicity and delicacy of its parts; the connexion of its members; the proportion and adaptation of its organs to each other, and to the whole; we need not wonder that David should say, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" In this sense, it is not a vile body.
But when we view it as degraded by the Fall; as prostituted to the purposes of sin; when we think of the eordidness and lowness of its appetites and infirmities; when we view it under various kinds and degrees of disease, requiring all the interest of reward or vigour of friendship, to discharge towards a fellow-creature the common duties of humanity; when we are compelled by the approach of putrefaction to bury our dead, however once loved and valued, out of our sight; when we go and open a grave, and witness the intolerable disgrace of our nature; we acknowledge with what propriety it is called "the body of our humiliation." But this body is not to he annihilated, though reduced—it will be only changed. "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is
sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is i spiritual body."
Secondly. Here is the model to which k will be conformed: "It shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body." The comparison does not regard his body in "the days of his flesh." It was then possessed of ill onr sinless qualities and feelings. But, after bis resurrection and ascension, it was deprived of every thing animal and humiliating. It was incapable of hunger or weariness. It could' move with the ease of thought, ud was invalnerable and eternal as the eoul. It was glorified. A glimpse of this glory wis given by way of anticipation to the dissiples, in the transfiguration, when "his face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white at the light" In this glory he appeared to Saul: he shone "above the brightness of the sun," and struck him blind. When John saw him, "his countenance was as the sun shineth b his strength," and though he had been once familiar with him, and had leaned often Go his bosom, he fell at his feet as dead. How glorious must that body be in which he now governs the world! In which he will judge the universe! In which we shall hold allow intercourse with Deity for ever I Yet a tooformity to this glory is not a privilege tm great for our hope. As sure as we sow resemble the Saviour in disposition, we shuM be like him in person: and the same mind will be followed with the same body.
Thirdly. We are informed of the omnipotent agency by which the work is to he accomplished; "according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all thing* unto himself." It is obvious that such a renovation is nothing less than a miracle, and the most stupendous of all miracles; and therefore that it demands in him, who is to effect it, something more than kindnea "We cannot by taking thought add one 01bit to our stature." We cannot replace i leaf; or revive a blade of grass. Oh! if tow could bring back the dead—if cries and teas could be heard—how soon would our breaches be repaired, and our wounds healed!—Swk power is not ours; it is not ours by nature: it is not ours by dispensation. But it below; to the Saviour. "He is the mighty Got He has "power given him over all flesh. He is Lord of the dead, as well as of the liwjf And he fainteth not, neither is weary. Tr reanimation and organization of mill"*5 » dead bodies will not exhaust him. Hecotw do infinitely more. He is " able even toeahdue all things unto himself."
From this subject we should learn, rW to be thankful for the discoveries of rw» tion. The notions of the heathen pMo*" phere, even concerning the immortality of f* soul, were very confined and confused; asit is to be observed that they never hud str<* upon it, as a principle and a motive. But the l resurrection of the body never entered their minds. The history and experience of mankind had furnished no ground for such an expectation. They had always followed the body to the grave, and had seen it return to its original element The doctrine of its revival and transformation was so new at Athens, that the preaching of it by the Apostle was turned into mockery. But the poorest and most illiterate Christian can open his Bible, and say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skm worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within ma"
Secondly; observe the importance the Scripture attaches to the doctrine of the resurrection. With what severity does the Apostle speak of those who endeavour to explain it away metaphorically; and " said the resurrection is past already, and overturned the faith of some." The Gospel certainly admits of an intermediate state between death and the resurrection; but whenever the blessedness of the future world is spoken of, it is, with few exceptions, placed not immediately after death, but after the resurrection. "Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day. A crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but to all them that love his appearing." It would be unnecessary to multiply passages to prove the remark. But does not all this imply, that whatever the intermediate state may be, compared with the present it is a defective one compared with the final state of the believer!—And it cannot be otherwise. Man was imbodied in his original creation; and so he will be in his ultimate condition. Till the resurrection, he wants an essential part of human nature; and a medium of connexion and intercourse with material things, from which a large proportion of the happiness of our compound being: results.
"Thirdly. Let this truth be always combined with the thought of death. Remember it in view of your own dissolution; and as you look towards the grave, and tremble, take courage, and drink in the heavenly intelligence which the Saviour communicates: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die."
Remember it when you are called to lose your pious friends and relations. You have
not parted with them for ever. Thy brother, thy sister, thy child, thy mother will rise again. "Be not ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
Lastly. Are you children of the resurrection! Let me earnestly entreat you not to elude the inquiry. For though the resurrection, as an event is universal; as a privilege it is limited. "All that are 'in their graves shall hear his voice, and come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." And can that be called a deliverance that raises a man from a had state, and consigns him to a worse? This will be the case with the wicked and the worldly; this will be the case with all those who have not been raised from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. The pit of corruption will resign its charge into the pit of destruction. O dreadful doom! Those bodies for which you have disregarded your souls; those bodies upon which you have expended all your time and attention; those bodies which you have nursed in sickness, and pampered in health—those bodies —death will surrender to the worms; and— the resurrection to the flames.
DANIEL; OR, CONSTANCY IN
JVo» -when Daniel knew that the writing -wot tinned, he -went into hit houtei and hit -windowt being open in hit chamber to-ward Jerutalem, he kneeled upon hit hneet three timet a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before hit God, at he did aforetime.—Dan. vi. 10.
In a day of rebuke and blasphemy, in which we see so many of an infidel and profligate character, and so few, even of those who profess the Gospel, adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, it is peculiarly pleasing and useful to be able to contemplate an instance of genuine, decisive, impartial, persevering, unrebukable religion before God and the Father.
And such an one we have in the example of Daniel. He had doubtless his infirmities: "for there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not:" but nothing is alleged against him. This is the more remarkable, since the sacred writers freely mention the faults as well as the excellences of good men; and I do not remember that any other individual, recorded in the Scriptures, has entirely escaped censure.
But let us attend to the words which 1 have read, and in which we have to consider— The Employment Of Daniel—The CircumStances OF THE ACTION—And THE KNOWLEDGE THAT ENHANCED THE VALUE OF THE PERFORMANCE.
I. The Employment Of Daniel. It was
pious. He prayed and gave thanks before his God. He was not one of those who are satisfied with morality without godliness. He well' knew that our greatest connexions are with God; and that with him we have principally to do. He was a good neighbour, a good citizen, a good master, and a good magistrate; but this did not excuse him from the worship of God. "He prayed—and gave thanks—before his God."
First He prayed. Prayer is the breathing of the desire towards God. Words are not essential to the performance of it As words may be used without prayer, so prayer may be used without words: lie that searcheth the heart "knoweth what is the mind of the spirit;" and when we cannot command language like some of our fellow-christians, it is well to be able to say, " Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee."
The expediency, the necessity of prayer, results from our indigent and dependent state. We have enemies to overcome—and how are we to conquer them? we have trials to endure—and how are we to bear them? We have duties to accomplish—and how are we to perform them? We need mercy and grace to help us—and how are we to obtain them? God his determined and revealed the method in which lie will communicate tho blessings he has promised. "For all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find." And, as he is a sovereign, and under no obligation to favour us at all, he has surely a right to appoint the way in which he will be gracious: but, in this appointment, his wisdom appears as conspicuous as his sovereignty; and his goodness as clearly as his wisdom. Nothing can be so beneficial to us as prayer is, not only by the relief it obtains, but by the influence it exerts; not only by its answers, but by its energy. Beyond every thing else that is instrumental in religion, it improves our characters, it strengthens our graces, it softens and refines our tempers, it contributes to our spirituality, and promotes our holiness. The more we have to do with God, the more we shall resemble him. "It is therefore good for us to draw near to him."
Secondly. He gave thanks. This should always attend prayer. Whenever we go to God for now favours, we slioidd be careful to acknow
ledge old ones: while we implore deliverance, we should be grateful for alleviations and rapports. I am sorry to say, that this is too commonly neglected. We are very selfish; and it appears even in our devotional services. We are too backward to every duty of religion; we are backward to pray, but still more to praise. Pressed by our difliculties, and urged by our wauts, we are constrained to pray; but when we have succeeded, we become unmindful of our benefactor. Thus of the ten lepers that were cleansed, "one only returned to give glory to God." And even of good Hezekiah it is said, when his health was restored, and his adversaries destroyed, that "he rendered not according to the benefit done him." A sad blemish! "Oh," sajs David, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and tor his wonderful worb to the children of men!" And Uiat he did not wish to enforce upon others what he neglected himself, appears from his own resolution: "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." And let us not think that he was undertaking more than could ever be accomplished: far the injunction of the Apostle is, "In ever,' thing give thanks." There is no state that does not require gratitude. There is always much more to be grateful for than to complain of, however afflicting our circumstances may be. Yea, even those things which seem the most unfriendly to our wishes and our welfare, did we know all, would probably draw forth our highest praise. For who has had not reason to say, "It is good for me that I have heen afflicted?" Daniel, you would naturally conclude, had much to pray lor—but though a captive, in a strange land, and labouring under the most cruel persecution, be did not forget to give thanks.
Thirdly. He did all this before his God. By which we are to understand, that he placed himself, in his religious exercises, under the eye of Jehovah, and realized his presence. Abraham was commanded to "waik before God:" and it would be well for us to remember, that wherever we go, and whatever we do, God is with us, as our observer, our witness, our judge. But when we engage in devotional services, whether public or private, we are considered as withdrawn from the world, and appearing more immediately before God. And to impress our minds with this truth is the way to secure our profit B will banish hypocrisy, and formality, and carelessness; and unite our hearts to fear Gods name.
II. The Circumstances Of The Actios.
The First regards the place. He " went into his house." God does not confine his regards to the great congregation; but "where two or three are gathered together in his name, there he is in the midst of them." He dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
"Where'or we seek him he ia found,
And every house not only maybe, but should be, a house of prayer; and in every family there ought to be an altar, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ Daniel worshipped God in his house, and with his family—but this is not all. He worshipped God alone: he was now—not in the parlour, but in his chamber—the very circumstance enjoined by our Saviour upon all his followers, and who will find it to be their privilege as well as their duty to observe it •' When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is^n secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
The Second regards his posture. "He kneeled upon his knees." God is a spirit; and the great thing is, to worship him in spirit and in truth. This may be done under an endless variety of forms and modes. We have always reason to fear that men are drawn off from the weightier matters of the law, in proportion as they are taken up with the external and circumstantial parts of religion. The Gospel has a nobler aun in view, than to stoop to regulate by positive law the minute ceremonial order of divine worship. There are many things left very safely at large, and which may be determined by circumstances variously, and yet prove equally acceptable to God, and useful to the worshipper himself.
But though bodily exercise profiteth little, God is " to be glorified in our bodies," as well as " in our spirits:" and we are free to say, that where it can be indulged, kneeling seems to be the most proper and advantageous posture of devotion. It preserves us more from distraction; it is more expressive of reverence, humility, and submission. It was not only the posture of Daniel, but of Paul: "I bow my knees unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" It was our Saviour's posture: "he kneeled three times, praying and saying the same words." It is the posture we all seem unavoidably to adopt, in private and in family worship.
- The Third regards the direction in which he performed his devotion: his windows were open "toward Jerusalem." Here we see the love a pious Jew bore to his native land, and the city of his solemnities. Though it was now in ruins, "he took pleasure in her dust, and favoured the stones thereof." Though he himself was advanced and provided for, yet said he, "if I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
When the temple was dedicated, Solomon, in his address to God, had thus expressed
himself: "If thy people sin against thee, and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; and so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling-place, and maintain their cause." Daniel had read this prayer: he had also read the prophecy of Jeremiah; "Thus saith the Lord, after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." And thus encouraged, he hoped and believed that in due time they should be released and restored. Hence in his prayers he always remembered Zion, and would give God no rest till he established, and till he "made Jerusalem a praise in the earth." A public spirit is a great excellency: and we ought, even in our private devotions, to be social; to be concerned for our country; and the Church of God.
The Fourth regards the frequency of the exercise. He did it "three tunes a day." And surely this is little enough, considermg the command, "Pray without ceasing." -You all refresh your bodies three times a day. Can your souls require less! A few moments of retirement in the middle of every day would much tend to keep you in the thmgs of God, and preserve you from the evil of the world.
I know that habitual devotion is what we should seek to maintain; but with many people at least, that which may be always done, is often never done; and if it be not proper in some cases to bind conscience, it will be useful, in all cases, to remind it: regular and appointed exercises of piety are of great importance.
David; as well as Daniel, was aware of this, and therefore says he, "Evening and morning, and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."
The last circumstance is the constancy and invariablenessof the practice—" as aforetime." There was therefore nothing new in it It was not an extraordinary fervour, produced by the spur of the occasion; it was not occasional impulse; but the regular effect* of principle and disposition. It was a plan he had laid down, a rule to which he always conformed. He did it when a young man, and he does it now he is an old one. He did it when he was in private life, and he does it now he is in public office.
Many of you, perhaps, complain that you cannot find time for duties, the importance of which"you are constrained to acknowledge. But who are you ? and what are your circumstances and engagements, that you cannot secure a little tune for God and your soulst Daniel was a man of business; of vast business; a prime minister; having to inspect and manage the affairs of an enormous empire: yet he retired three times a day; and not for one day only, but every day. "He went into his house, and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon hia knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." Remark,
HI. The Kngw I.edoe That Enhanced The
VALUE OF THE PERFORMANCE.
We all know that an action we admire would not discover the same degree of principle in other circumstances. When a man is surrounded with honour and applause— then—to think of himself soberly—this evinces his humility. When a man is insulted and injured—then—to rule his own spirit, and to render blessing for cursing— this marks his patience and meekness. When a man sees his danger—but says, "None of these things move me"—this is the trial and the triumph of his conviction and his resolution. Had Daniel been ignorant of the king's decree, his decision and courage would not have appeared. But he knew that the writing was signed, and was aware of the consequences of disobedience—yet he determined to stand his ground; and proved, that he loved his duty more than life; and that he who fears God fears no other fear.
Whence we learn, that no danger should hinder a good man from doing his work.
It is natural to conclude, that some would press Daniel to yield; nor is it difficult to conjecture the reasons or excuses they would
ome would plead loyalty. "The command was from the king his master, and in honour of him too; and would he disobey the order of his sovereign, and when his glory was at stake!"—But Daniel knew how to distinguish between civil and religious concerns. He knew that in the former, we are to obey the powers that be; in the latter we are held by a higher homage : and if the commands of any superior contradict the commands of God, we are pre-engaged ; and must "obey God rather than man." Thus children are only required to obey their parents "in the Lord."
Some would plead usefulness. "His life was in danger; and it was valuable. What a loss would the world and the Church sus
tain!" But Daniel knew that we are to go on in the path of duty, whatever we meet with; that we are not allowed to decline a command of God, by reasoning from remote or probable consequences; that we are to cut our care upon the Lord; and that we are most useful when in simplicity and godly sincerity, "not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have our conversation in the world."
Some would have recommended a plan of accommodation. "He could have withdrawn into the country, and concealed himself for thirty days. He might have discontinued the exercise of prayer, though not the inclination. He might have prayed inwardly and secretly, and thus have preserved his character and his conscience too." But Daniel knew that if he had done this, it would have appeared to his friends, and much more to his enemies, that he had thrown up the duty for the sake of his secular advantage, and was afraid to trust the God of his salvation; it would have dishonoured his religion, and have justified others in temporizing and cowardice. Whereas by acting this noUe and open part, he rendered himself peculiarly useful, and obtained the most distinguished honour.
1 said he rendered himserf by this example peculiarly useful. Who can imagine what an attention would be excited; whathxiuiries would be made; how many would become proselytes to the Jewish religion, and adore a God that, unlike their abominations, was able to save those that served him. Even an edict was passed in honour of Daniel's Deliverer. "Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
Why are we required to "hold forth" the word of life; to hold fast "the profession of our faith;" to "confess with the mouth," as well as believe with the heart; to "let our light shine before men, that they may see our good works V—Why? Because our religion is to be visible as well as real; and must he fairly and fully exhibited, in order to be impressive and profitable. It is not by trimming and yielding, but by amiable, consistent, firm, and uniform deportment, that we are to strike and convince beholders.
When Sir Thomas Abney was nWJJ London, he made no scruple at the lord mayor's feast to rise in the evening and inform the company that he was going to with