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the gradual fillings up and unfoldings of the spiritual characterthe meetening for “the inheritance of saints in light.” Now Christians bear in some degree the image of the heavenly--the good work is begun, and is constantly carrying on-the germ of everlasting life is already implanted in the heart—the elements of all real, all future, all conceivable excellence, is even now in the contrite soul we see the infant features of that renewed person who is destined to so glorious a maturity in yonder world—love to God, which is already distinguishable, already vigorous—that “ holiness without which no man shall see the Lord,” spreads its divine loveliness even now over the inner man, and sheds a sacred light upon the outward life ;—but in how divine, in how mature a degree, shall we bear the image of the heavenly, in that state where
enters nothing that defileth !" Then that “which is in part shall be done
every mark of sin shall be removed, and our existence be adorned with an ineffable glory; then shall we not only wear the distinguishing features of the blessed family, but be for ever brightening in holiness amidst the purities of heaven and in the vision of God! “Now are we sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
II. The image of the earthy is an image of Sorrow; the image of the heavenly is an image of HAPPINESS.
In his primitive condition Adam was exempt from every species of physical pain and mental anxiety; nor is it conceivable that a being so constituted and so circumstanced should be a sufferer. When the mind is perfectly conformed to the will of God; when it holds habitual intercourse with him, and is conscious of his love ; when all its movements are in unison, and all its motives and principles are pure,—it seems invulnerable to the attacks, and elevated above the influence of misery. In his unfallen state, therefore, man was a happy being, and when restored to purity he will again be capacitated to enjoy a perfect blessedness.
But sorrow is incidental to a life which is polluted by sin, and cannot be severed from it. The moment the primogenitors of mankind became sinners, they were conscious of the strange emotions of sorrow which were identified with their existence: and these associate evils were entailed upon their posterity.
Sorrow is then the lot of sinful humanity on two accounts; as a penal severity inflicted primarily on the first transgressor, and subsequently on the whole family of mankind; and as the natural result of the operations of those unhallowed passions which are fostered and stimulated by depravity. The imaginations of men, aided by their sensual affections, have frequently attempted to disunite the cause and effect, and they have indulged in sin in the hope of eluding sorrow; but in vain. The transgressor may be conscious of a momentary glow of delight, a fitful delirium of pleasure,—there may be a few sparks of enjoyment elicited from the objects of criminal indulgence; but these will soon fly away, and leave the spirit in darkness and in sadness. Notwithstanding every promise of the world, and every anticipation of the deluded mind, the balance of enjoyment is infinitely against the sinner, even in his most prosperous and most envied condition; and there is not a single evil principle of our nature that can be habitually gratified with safety to our peace. To say nothing of the toil and risk often attendant upon the pursuit of criminal pleasure, it is never for its own sake worth the labour. In the fullest participation it is found to be defective, delusory, and productive of ultimate wretchedness. Sweeten the cup as you can, it is poison still. Beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the touch may the skin of the serpent be, but the creature is venomous in spite of its attractions.
Sorrow is widely diffused over human life, and operates in a variety of modes. It affects our persons, our neighbours and friends, and our whole race. It afflicts the body, disturbs the soul, and corrodes the heart. It intrudes into every family, into every circle, into every condition and period of life. It casts its dark shadow over the brightest morning of our existence, darkens the noon of our day with clouds and tempests, and overspreads with gloom our declining years. Vain and impossible would be the attempt to enumerate the diversified afflictions of life, the disappointments and distresses, the outward woes, inward conflicts, domestic griefs, relative miseries, private and public calamities, with which it is infested; all of which convince us but too conclusively of the fact, that we have borne the image, and still sustain the resemblance of the earthy.
It is our privilege, however, again to contemplate a brighter scene,—" we shall bear the image of the heavenly.” The Son of God, when he became incarnate, was an heir of sorrow; but he was also born to triumph and renown. He endured, by a voluntary humiliation, the ignominy and agony of the cross, " for the joy that was set before him." The hour of his crucifixion was indeed “the hour and power of darkness;" but, as the moment preceding the opening day is frequently that of the profoundest gloom—as the darkness is more palpable before the glories of the morning burst forth—so was that season of woe and of degradation precursory to the commencement of his final and everlasting victory. The depth of his abasement rendered his elevation the more illustrious. Never were sorrows like his, never were succeeding joys so great; never did human nature appear so to fall, never did it so gloriously riseallied as it was to all that was earthly, to all that was divine-to all that was frail, to all that was immortal! Jesus emerged from his humiliation in the brightness of his happier destiny--in the majesty of heaven
This honour is ours; this triumph we shall participate; we shall also“ bear the image of the heavenly!”
In discussing the former part of the subject, it was intimated that the perfect purity of the future state will be only the completion of a holiness already begun; and it may here be considered, that for a similar reason the joy of the believer in another world will arise out of the consummation of a principle of happiness implanted now by the Divine Spirit in the soul. The flowing stream of our heavenly affections will expand at length into a sea of blessedness. The process by which we are to be made eternally happy in the presence of God and the Lamb is now proceeding; the elements of future glory are now discernible in the grace that distinguishes and ennobles the christian character ; and we have this assurance, that “he which hath begun a good work in you
carry until the day of Christ Jesus.” The leaven of sanctification is working, and it will leaven the whole mass of our passions; so that in the present "peace that passeth understanding," which the Christian participates, he has a pledge and foretaste, and actual commencement of "the joy of the Lord.” Jesus “standing at the right hand of God,” after his ascension from the world, when he “led captivity captive;" Jesus appearing fresh from the victories of earth in the temple of the skies—his countenance beaming ineffable smiles, from a conscious superiority over every foe, and a complacent delight in every encircling and happy spirit—is an image of triumph the most perfect, the most joyous, and the most wonderful. That image we are destined to wear; that glory we shall participate ; that felicity it will be ours, as believers, to share and to display! The traces of grief will then disappear from every countenance, which will become irradiated with bliss and adorned with celestial beauty; sorrow and sighing shall flee away,” the “ days of mourning will be ended,” “God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes," the obscurities of the morning will have vanished, the light of truth in the mind will have shone forth into perfect day, and it will be the very noon of happy being.
The mind, the character, the whole of what the spirit of a “just man made perfect" can be, will possess an inexpressible charm and beatitude, arising from assimilation to our exalted Lord—“we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
III. The image of the earthy is an image of DEATH; the image of the heavenly is an image of life.
“Sin entered, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned;" and thus our first parent entailed sin, and sorrow, and death, upon his numerous race. “ In Adam all die.” It is unnecessary to insist upon the universal prevalence of this evil; it is too manifest to admit of a moment's question ; although the proper lessons to be deduced from the fact, are neither well understood, nor sufficiently appreciated.
There are many considerations which render death peculiarly affecting. It is inevitable—“There is no discharge in that war.” It is a total disappearance from amongst men.
Unlike those occasional separations, which, in some instances, may be even beneficial imparting a new impulse to life, and a fresh vigour to friendshipthe separation of death is, with regard to terrestrial associations, final. Its approach is uncertain, and often sudden; none can foresee the hour, or calculate even upon the probable period when they shall experience the awful change. The results are inexpressibly important, and such as no thoughtful person can contemplate without solemn interest.
But the text suggests more especially the idea of the image of death ; an image of horror, decay, and degradation. What a surprising and distressing alteration occurs, and how unlike every
other effect which is produced upon the body! Disease, terror, and innumerable other causes, may occasion prodigious changes of countenance or of constitution; but nothing can equal death. The palid hue of mortality is peculiar to itself. The eye glistens with the beam of intelligence no more; the pulse beats no more; the ear hears no more; the members have forgotten their offices; the wheel is broken ; the cistern empty ; the channels of life dry; all is motionlessstagnant-withered-gone! To say nothing of ultimate putrefaction, there is something in death more terrible than mere inanimation. The statue is cold, and motionless, and pale ; but it is not death we behold, for life has never been there. That chiseled form was never active! Those limbs and members were never susceptible of impression and feeling! Nothing is departed; no spirit was ever
there! But look at that lifeless human frame; and you start to recollect that it was once animate, active, and beautiful! It was the habitation of life; it was the dwelling-place of an immortal soul, now fled to other regions ; it was susceptible of all those impressions, affections and powers, of which I am at this moment conscious. There lived, and breathed, and acted, the soul, it might be, of a conqueror, or a potentate, or a philosopher, or a philanthropist, or, better still, a Christian ! There was once contained, perhaps, the glory of a patriarch, or the inspiration of a prophet, or the fire of a martyr, or the piety of a saint ! There devotion reigned, and spread a sacredness over existence! But, alas, the flame burns no more upon that altar; the temple is gone to ruins ; the windows are darkened, and all is desolate! This is, emphatically, the image of the earthy, which appeared on the smitten, pale, and lifeless form of our first parent, after his expulsion from paradise.
But we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” “In Christ” we shall be “ made alive.” “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." A more delightful subject of contemplation cannot be presented to the mind than the resurrection of Christ; no object can be so glorious as Jesus coming from the dishonours of the grave, in all the beauty of a new and immortal life, free from every mortal infirmity which he had chosen to sustain, and glowing with all the freshness, and fulness, and felicity of a renovated and a deathless being ; invulnerable to every future attack of suffering; superior to all the changes of such a scene as this; immortal amidst surrounding decay; "the bright and morning star," shedding its pure influences upon this long benighted world, and foretelling a bright and an eternal day.
My brethren, what an image is this to wear! What a grandeur is this to possess! What a destiny is this to attain ! “Such honour have all his saints.” “We shall bear the image of the heavenly."
It is difficult to comprehend the sublimity of that state in which " we shall die no more.” We are now so conversant with death ; we see it at every turn, and feel it in every nerve, and fear it in every state; so that deathless existence surpasses our conceptions, and is a bliss we cannot comprehend. To possess a perfect joy, and to possess it for ever — yes, to be “ for ever with the Lord,” hath not “ entered into the heart of man to conceive.” Heavenly objects never fade upon the sight; heavenly harmonies never die upon the ear; heavenly riches never “ take to themselves wings and fly away!" We shall “see the King in his beauty;" he ever on his throne—we ever adoring around !