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MARK X. 30.
IN this short Discourse, I shall omit speaking of eternal life, in the sense in which the words are used in St. John, xvii. 2, 3, and many other places, as of a living principle derived from Christ, the knowledge of God communicated by him, and an internal preparation for entering into his kingdom. I omit not this view of the matter, because I judge it of small import
ance ; I consider it as of the greatest possible , consequence; but it does not appear to be the meaning of the words in this text: But an eternal state of well-being hereafter. And in this light I shall consider the passage ; and I doubt not, but we shall find much matter, worthy of of our most serious consideration.
Eternal life, supposeth not only a state of existence and sensibility, which must necessarily be implied; but a state of happiness, or wellbeing.'
A constant state of existence and sensibility, must be implied in eternal life ; and, therefore,
it is evident that the soul doth not die with the body, as some good people suppose : meaning, no doubt, to give greater glory and honor to Christ by that view, than appears to them to be given him by the other. And by his causing believers wholly to die, and at the great day to rise again in his glorious image : they suppose it will appear, that he is the great author and giver of eternal life, in every sense of the words, much better than by the contrary supposition.
But we should always be careful, not to give honor to one perfection of our Lord, at the expence of another. Christ has declared, in the most unequivocal manner, that true believers shall not only be raised up at the last day, but shall never die. “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death ;” says Christ to the Jews': St. John, viii. 51., They called him a liar, for making such an assertion : and do not those, in some sort join with the Jews, who venture to assert, that the souls as well as bodies of true believers, fall underneath the power of death, and continue so till the resurrection ?
But if there is something of believers that shall die, and be raised up again at the last day, (even: their bodies ;) and something that shall never see death, (even their souls ;-) then are all our Saviour's words true : but on the contrary supposition, I cannot see how they can be justified. Our Lord has expressly declared, saving : “ This is the will of him that sent me, that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life ; and I will raise
him up at the last day. This is the bread that cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven : if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. Who. so eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life ; and I will raise him up at the last day." See St. John, vi. 40, 50. 51, 54.
Is it not evident that he promises eternal life, | and the resurrection at the last day, as different
blessings ? Whereas, they are the same, according to the supposition that the soul dies with the body. Again, let me ask, What part of us feeds on the flesh of Christ, that heavenly bread ? Surely, none will pretend that it is the body; but it must be some part of us ; then it must be the soul of conséquence : and it is that part of us that is able, through grace, to keep Christ's saying; and shall therefore, never see nor taste of death, according to the words of truth itself. .
St. Paul could say, in behalf of himself, and the Christians of that age : “ Therefore, we are always confident, knowing, that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, I say, and will. ing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. v. 6, 8.
But I need not inform persons of common understanding, that, upon the supposition that the soul dies with the body, it is absolutely im. possible for any person, to be ever for a single i moment absent from the body, and present with the Lord : for as none could in that case exist . at all but in the body, they must of necessity be present in the body, in order to be present with the Lord : directly contrary to St. Paul's assertions.
If St. Paul had believed that soul and body died together, he might, indeed, have exulted in the view of the resurrection to eternal life ; but would hardly have wished to be dissolved ; neither could he have expressed himself in the following manner :
" For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better : nevertheless, to abide in the flesh
is more needful for you." Phil. i. 21, 23, 24. . Now can any person tell me, what real gain
it could be to the active soul of St. Paul, to die - with the body? Can that be called a great gain,
at which the soul of man would startle and recoil ? the death of the apostle would be a gain to him, upon the supposition, that when he departed from the body he would be with Christ; but upon no other consideration whatever. It was far better for him to depart and to be with Christ, than to live in this world ; but it was much better for him to live in this world, than to have no existence at all ; as any person may reasons ably conclude : For while the apostle remained in life, he had communion with his God and Saviour; had many opportunities of doing and suffering his will ; was continually doing good to men, &c. Now, who can suppose, that it kould be far better for such an useful man, as
Paul, to drop wholly out of existence for several thousand years, than to remain in such
a glorious, important, and honorable station, as Es that wherein it pleased Jesus Christ to place him, in his church below ? :
As for departing and being with Christ, there 4, can be no such thing, if the soul dies with the body ; for, in that case, Christ must come and raise the bodies of his saists, before they can be with him ; but St. Paul assures us that, “ If we believe that Jesus died, and rose again ; e. ven so, them also who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him." 1 Thess. iv. 14. But we may as well believe, that God brought Adam with him when he came to create the world; as to believe that he will bring those who sleep in Jesus with him, if they are not in existence, and in their spirits living with him, and unto him.
But that which is fully sufficient of itself to prove the separate existence of the soul out of the body is our Saviour's history of the rich man and Lazarus ; wherein he declares, “ That the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom : the rich man also died, and was buried : and in hell he list up his eyes, being in torments; and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” St. Luke, xvi. 22, 23. Now is it not evident that something of the beggar died, even his body? But, what was it that angels carried into Abraham's bosom,if it was not his soul, a vital spark or principle, that still lived, & was capable of positive happiness? And was it that part of the rich man that died and was buried, that lifted up his eyes in the