« AnteriorContinuar »
course, or sinking under persecutions, temptations, and trials, and they were also divinely borne up with views of eternal glory and happiness, to which they had an eye, and this made present afflictions light and easy. So Paul says, verse 17. " For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (The one was nothing, the other was all) "while we (says he) look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.1' Thus in this context, is summed up, all that can be supposed we shall pass through in time, and also all that can possibly befal us, at any instant in time, and what will be our case, as saints, from the instant of our death, throughout eternity. All that befals us in time is temporal, all in our disembodied state is eternal. The state of the soul after this temporal state is ended with us, is unseen in this life by us; otherwise than by faith, as well as what shall be after the day of judgment; so that the state of the soul, after death, must be here included, as that which belongs to eternal, as its state after the resurrection: both which states make together but one entire eternal.
All the while believers sojourn here, their souls are under the constant renewings of the Holy Ghost. Their whole time, is so short in this present state, as to be stiled a moment: the ending of this moment is the beginning of eternity; and time thus ceasing, all afflictions cease with it, and eternal glory immediately takes place. And from the first possession of it, it is the same in kind, though not in degree, that will be continued throughout eternity. It is an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. And thus I am brought to the words of my text, which read thus; " For we know, that if our earthly bouse of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
Paul calls our bodies, in which our souls dwell, an house; he shews the weakness and frailty of it, by stiling it an earthly house; he compares it to a tabernacle, or tent, which is easily taken down, and raised np again, as our bodies are by death, and will be at the resurrection; he speaks of death, as the dissolution of the body, at which time the soul leaves it; to all which he, by way of comfort, to carry beyond the fears of dissolution, expresses the confidence of faith, concerning the soul's immediate entrance into the state of glory, in these words ; " For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved," which is a reason why we faint not at the thoughts of dying, and leads us back to the sixteenth verse of the former chapter, "For which cause we faint not;" because, " though our outward man decayeth, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." In perfect harmony with this, when the outward man is dissolved, we shall, from that moment, without the least interruption, have entrance into eternal glory. This is our cordial against the thoughts of dying, and the fears of death. "We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
The apostle speaks of the reality of this blessed state, that the minds of saints might be divinely animated with the prospect; and he speaks of it under the expressions of " a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." The substance of what he thus expresses, is this; we know that if our bodies were dissolved by death, we should enter upon our eternal state; the prospect of which may well revive us, because we have " an house not made with hands," ready prepared to receive us. This house and state which we have a prospect of, is most exactly suited to our disembodied state, it is "a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
I will now proceed to the immediate subject before us, and present the same to you under the following particulars.
First, I will set forth the state of glory and blessedness, on which the elect, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, enter immediately upon, at their departure from their bodies, at death.
Secondly, I will treat of the peculiarity and solemnity with which they are received by Christ, at their arrival in heaven, when our Lord will "present them before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy." See Jude, ver. 34.
Thirdly, I will declare, as far as enabled from the word, and by the Spirit of God, and as blessed with his inspiration, grace, and influence, what constitutes the blessedness and perfection of this state. And,
Lastly, how saints are employed in the kingdom of glory.
I am first to set forth and speak of the state of glory and blessedness, upon which the elect, believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, enter immediately, at their departure from their bodies, at death.
Death is the passage between time and eternity: by it we pass from the one to the other. When a believer is separated from the body by the force and violence of death, he enters immediately from a state of grace into a state of glory, blessedness, and immortality. That very moment he ceases to breathe the air of this present world, and ceases to have fellowship with the elements of the present system, he is received into the joy of his Lord, and admitted into heaven, which is both a place, an habitation, and also a state of inconceivable glory and blessedness, life, and immortality. We commonly call the heavenly state, the slate of glory, because the believer in his soul is the subject of glory. The glory of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, breaks forth immediately and directly upon the intellectual faculties of the mind, so that the regenerated soul is made glorious hereby, and shines by reflection, Christ, the Lord of glory, having shone upon it, and filled it with glory from himself. Hereby glory is revealed in the soul, as it is also to the soul, which is admitted to glory, and, as it were, implunged in it as its true and proper element. And, like as grace and holiness are inwrought in the soul, whilst in the body, by the Holy Ghost so glory is revealed inherently in the minds of the saints in heaven, which breaks forth from them, and shines forth in and throughout their every faculty of understanding and will, by the same power of the Holy Ghost, and as the fruit of his personal indwelling in them: for he it is who will fill them with all the fulness of God.
The Holy Spirit, who is stiled the Spirit of God, and of glory, hath been pleased to set forth heaven as the habitation of departed saints. He reveals the saints entrance on it, to be entering on a state of blessedness and glory. He treats of the enjoyments of the glorified in this state, as consisting in seeing God, in enjoying eternal