Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

a

hath no access to that light in which God dwells, and that he does not visibly behold the glory of God until that time when it shall be announced,-"Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them."b*

[ocr errors]

But there is a yet greater depth in this part of our subject, which remains to be considered. Many expressions in Scripture lead to the conclusion, that the saints are not presented even to Christ until the period of the advent; and therefore, that in whatever way the saints, when absent from the body, are to be considered present with him, and to behold him by sight and not by faith, it is not in that glorified nature which he will possess, when he comes as "THE GREAT GOD AND Our SAVIOUR. Thus it is written, that Christ sanctifies and cleanses the Church, "that he may present it to HIMSELF a glorious Church, &c. He bids his disciples pray, that they may be accounted worthy to escape the last tribulation and to stand before the SON OF MAN;d as if they had not been brought into his presence previously. Similar is the promise in John's Gospel,e that He will come again and receive them to HIMSELF; which it is difficult to reconcile with the notion of each believer being at death received to Christ. Agreeably with this view the Apostle says, that he had espoused the Corinthians to one husband, that he (Paul) might present them as a chaste virgin to Christ. He declares also of the Thessalonians, that they will be "his hope and crown of rejoicing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming." And St. John exhorts the saints to abide in Christ, "that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming." I pretend not to reconcile these two things, though I doubt not they may be so: they are both revealed, and I heartily believe them both. It may please God to give to

another greater light on this subject than to myself.”t

αθανατον τε και αφθαρτον ζωην επω γεγον3 τινος ή αναςασις, πλην το Σωτηρος Χριςό, διο και πρωτότοκος των νεκρών, και απαρχή των κεκοιμημένων ανηγορεύται. Question lxxxv. Ι give this, without expressing any opinion on it, merely for the information of others.

* Not only can no man now approach to the presence of God; but there appears to be a distinction among the angels even. For Gabriel states it to be his privilege, that he stood in the presence of God: (Luke i. 11:) and of the angels who minister to the saints it is said, apparently by way of distinction, "In heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." Matt. xviii. 10.

a 1 Tim. vi. 16.

b Rev. xxi. 3.

с

Ephes. v. 27.

d Luke xxi. 36. h 1 John ii. 28.

e xiv. 3. f2 Cor. xi. 2. g 1 Thess. ii. 19. + It is further worthy of observation, that the body in which Jesus was seen by his disciples after his resurrection, and in which he ascended, (as likewise the bodies in which we presume the saints, raised after his resurrection, appeared unto many,) was not such as he appeared in, when, together with Moses and Elijah, he was transfigured in the mount. And therefore these passages

III. Let us now inquire, concerning the resurrection saints, "with what body do they come?”

Our body is at present a great hindrance to our spiritual enjoyment. Even though the spirit be willing, the flesh is weak; and it has to be denied and carefully watched in order to subject it to the spirit; and to the last "we groan in it being burdened." But the power of God will be so exerted in the resurrection, that we shall possess a spiritual body, which will assist, instead of retarding, the motions of the spirit; so that our very flesh may then be said to be athirst for the living God. But I cannot do better, in regard to this point, than request the reader's attention to St. Paul's plain and clear argumentation on this subject, contained in 1 Cor. XV. Having shewn, by an appeal to analogies in nature, that the corruption and dissolution of the body in the earth, must not be considered any impediment to the power of God to raise it up in a different form, since the same may be observed in regard to every grain of corn cast into the earth; (vv. 35— 38) he continues to illustrate the subject by noticing the different kinds of flesh which already exist; (as the flesh of men, of fishes, of birds, &c. v. 39;) and also the fact that we already see both heavenly and earthly bodies, and these with various degrees of glory; (vv. 40, 41;) and he then proceeds to apply the subject to the human body. It is placed in the grave under circumstances of corruption, dishonour, and weakness, a merely natural or animal body (foxmov;) but it is raised up a spiritual body, incapable of corruption or death, and possessing power and glory. (vv. 42—46 and 53.) Our Lord himself declares the immortality of the resurrection saints, when he says, "neither can they die any more:"i* so that whatsoever we are to of Scripture may allude to the greatly different circumstances and character in which the saints will behold the Lord at his advent, compared with that appearance in which he condescends to be seen by them in their separate state. This notion is the more reconcileable with Scripture, if we consider, that when the Lord bid the disciples pray, (Luke xxi. 36,) that they might be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man, they were at that very time enjoying the privilege of standing, or possibly sitting, in his presence: yet he evidently makes no account of his presence under the circumstances in which he then was, compared with the period to which he adverts. So Justyn Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho, having noticed the power manifested by Christ, whereby devils were cast out in his name, considers it as nothing, compared with the glory and majesty and power to be assumed by him, when Daniel vii. 2, and following verses are fulfilled. So the passage beginning Ει δε τη τε παθός αυτ8 οικονομία τοσαυτη συναμις δείκνυται παρακολοθήσασα και παρακολέθεσα, πίση ή εν τη ενδοξω γινομένη αυτό παρεσία, &c.

It is worthy of remark, in regard to the power and immortality of the body, that Jesus during his ministry gave a power to his disciples for a season, which, if held in perpetuity, would confer immortality on the possessor: viz. power over all manner of sickness and disease, and over all the power of the enemy, the greatest and last enemy being death. See Matt. x. 1-8; Luke x. 18, 19. i Luke xx. 36.

understand of "the second death," we have this blessed assurance,-"He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." Thus, though the body is to rise, it will undergo such a change, as shall render it flesh of a very different kind from that which we now possess.

We must notice likewise the resplendent glory of the body at this time. We have a description of it in the account of the transfiguration, when the Lord appeared in glory together with Moses and Elijah. "The fashion of his countenance was altered," "and his face did shine as the sun,"m_"and his raiment was white as the light," shining exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth can white them." This particular description is not indeed expressly concerning the glory in which Moses and Elijah appeared, but of the body of Jesus: nevertheless, we have decided assurance, that the glorified saints will be exactly conformed to their Lord. Did the face of Jesus shine as the sun?-so also "shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Was his raiment white as the light?-so "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and Thus the Apostle argues, in the chapter of Corinthians before quoted, that as we have borne the image of the earthly [man,] we shall also bear the image of the heavenly: which heavenly man is "the Lord from heaven." And in another place he declares, that the Lord will "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."**

ever. "p

Though I fear to enter into an inquiry on any subject, when we have no word from the Lord; yet I consider it equally reprehensible to be afraid of inquiry, when we have any light to guide us; therefore I would notice two or three other particulars revealed, concerning our future bodily state.

And

The first is, that there will be no marriage among the risen saints; which our Lord plainly declares in Luke xx. 35. St. Paul seems to teach, that the distinction of sex will be done away; declaring "that there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female; but that all are one in Christ Jesus; i Rev. xx. 12-14. k Ibid. ii. 11. 1 Luke ix. 29. m Matt. xvii. 2. n Ibid. and Mark ix. 3. • Matt. xiii. 43. p Dan. xii. 3. q1 Cor. xv. 47-49. r Phil. iii. 21.

*It would seem to be owing to the sun-like splendour of the Lord and his saints, that it is said of the New Jerusalem, "there was no need of the sun there, because the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Rev. xxi. 23.) When Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, it was with a glory "ABOVE (or exceeding) the brightness of the sun." (Acts xxvi. 13.) Isaiah iv. 5 may also relate to the shining of the saints in their new tabernacles or "dwelling-places," their heavenly tabernacle being evidently their heavenly body. See 2 Cor. v. 1, 2.

and if Christ's, then Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." It may be questioned, however, whether the latter passage does strictly refer to the resurrection state.

Another particular is, that the saints will have the power of conveying themselves, in the manner of angels, through the heavenly regions. This is evident, first, from the circumstance, that they will rise to meet the Lord in the air. And secondly, it may be clearly gathered from the assurance, that they are to be wage, "equal to the angels;"'" whose bodies, however fashioned, unquestionably possess this locomotive power.

The last particular I shall notice is, that they will possess the sense or faculty of taste,-at least, that they will eat and drink. To some this will appear a gross and carnal view of our angelic state; but this, I am persuaded, arises from the carnal state of our own minds, which cannot distinguish between the holy use and the abuse of a good thing. Wide is the difference between painting heaven like a Mahometan's paradise, (as if it consisted only in meats and drinks and sensual enjoyments,) and denying to the saints and angels those faculties, by which they are better enabled to appreciate the goodness of God. The man who can see the beauty of creation in fruits and flowers may be enabled to praise God accordingly; but he cannot understand so much of his power and goodness, as the man who likewise discovers a fragrance and a flavour in those fruits. "To the pure all things are pure."

But let us come to the Scripture testimony on this head; for on this we may safely rely, however human prejudice may be opposed to it. Did not our Lord eat and drink with his disciples, after his resurrection from the dead?" and did he not promise his apostles, as the recompense for their continuing with him in his temptations, "that they should eat and drink at his table in his kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." The heavenly messengers who visited Abraham, before the destruction of Sodom, ate with him; and are we to suppose that it was not a reality? or that they were destitute of any faculty whereby to appreciate the food they apparently consumed? The Lord Jesus on one occasion purposely demanded food, that he might convince his disciples of the reality of his resurrection: but it were absurd to view it as a proof at all, if we must suppose the act of eating to have been itself only an illusion. Once more, the manna which fell in the wilderness, and which was different from any thing ever witnessed before or since, is called in Scripture

u Luke xx. 36. ▾ Acts x. 41. Gen. xviii. 8. y Luke xxiv. 41-43.

Gal. iii. 28, 29. t1 Thess. iv. 17.
w Luke xxii. 28-30.
W

"the bread of heaven;" and it is declared by the Psalmist, "that man did eat angel's food." We may really just as well deny to the angels the sense of sight or of hearing, as of taste, and suppose that when they sang together, at the creation and at the birth of our Saviour, they understood not their own melody.

IV. I shall next briefly notice a few particulars concerning the intellectual faculties of the saints.

The memory will necessarily be wonderfully improved; decided indications of which are already afforded to spiritual persons. For example, the apostles of our Lord, whilst under training for the ministry, betrayed repeated instances of forgetfulness, in regard to the things which they had both seen and heard from their divine Master; but he promised, "that the Holy Ghost should bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had said to them."a And we have now frequent instances of persons, who, when led to repentance, have sins brought by the Spirit to their recollection, which previously seemed to have been clean forgotten.

In the same manner I might dwell upon the want of understanding which men betray in their natural state; and shew how the Lord opened the understandings of his disciples, that they might understand the Scriptures. For I apprehend, that every instance, in which we may perceive that our human faculties have been improved by the power of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of our God, is a pledge and earnest of the fulness of that which shall be wrought in us, when we are altogether conformed in body and spirit to his glorious image.

Concerning the increase of our knowledge wonderful and glorious things are spoken! The knowledge of the most spiritually minded and intellectual and learned is now, comparatively speaking, as nothing. St. Paul compares the present knowledge, even of the Church, to the understanding and thoughts and prattling of children; and says, that what we see of divine things are presented to the mind as through a glass, shrouded in comparative obscurity, ( ayari,) being only partially known. But hereafter we are to see "face to face," without any veil, either on those things now hidden from us, or on our own powers of perception. Then we shall know

EVEN AS WE ARE KNOWN! How we are known is plainly declared: "THE WORD OF GOD is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword;-piercing, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the > Psalm lxxviii. 24, 25. a John xiv. 26. b Luke xxiv. 45. 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 12.

« PoprzedniaDalej »