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an existence. A reality it hath, though purely spiritual, and invisible to sense, but no less real; for it is said Prov. xvi. 2, "The Lord weigheth the spirits ;" therefore they have some weight.
(2.) The soul is the subject of properties; and that which is a subject capable of habits, or affections, is a substance. Now the soul is capable of love, desire, hope, delight, joy, sorrow, in a natural sense; of cultivating arts and sciences, in a civil sense; of exhibiting graces and vices, in a moral sense; therefore must needs be a substance.
(3.) The soul is a being of itself; not an accident, or quality inhering in another subject; hence David saith, "Into thy hands I commit my spirit ;"* and the apostle Peter requires us to "commit the keeping of our souls to God."+ Here is the cage, the bird is flown; the soul is God's creature as well as the body, and will have its existence after the body is dissolved into dust and corruption; so our Lord saith, Matt. x. 28, “Men may kill the body, God the soul."
(4.) The soul is the man. Man hath his denomination from the better part; Gen. xlvi. 26, "All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt," that is, all the persons; yea, the soul is so noble a part of man, that sometimes the body is excluded as inconsiderable; 2 Cor. v. 8, "We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." Still he harps on this string, insisting on the soul, as if the body had no personality with the soul; therefore elsewhere he accounts the body as a perishing, a vile thing, but reckons upon the soul, the "inward man, being renewed day by day." This is the man worth
* Psalm xxxi. 5.
Animus cujusque est quisque.
§ 2 Cor. iv. 16.
+ 1 Peter iv. 19.
|| Phil. iii. 21.
speaking of, and reckoning upon. Thus the soul is a substance.
I might add, that it was the soul that Christ came principally to redeem, and the body by consequence.
Obs. 3. That as soon as the soul leaves the body at death, it launcheth into an eternal state.
This is clear from the text. The soul of Judas went to its own place;"* that is, into the state of the damned, whither his deserts cast him. Believers go straight to heaven, being carried by the safe convoy of guardian "angels, into Abraham's bosom."+ Hence it it is said, "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord,"‡ arapri, from henceforth, that is, from the first instant their immortal soul is breathed out of this mortal body, they are with Christ: doubtless Paul understood his soul would be with Christ as soon as it was loosed from the body, which made him so earnestly to long for it, Phil. i. 23. Yea, Christ said to the thief on the cross, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” Luke xxiii. 43.
(1.) Then surely the soul at death is not annihilated, that is, turned into nothing; it is a spirit, and consists not of parts, as the body doth, and therefore is not divisible, and so cannot be subject to dissolution, but continues in its being.
(2.) The soul sleeps not, for it ceaseth not in its acts and operations when the body is asleep, as is clear from dreams, wherein the soul is apprehensive and lively in its imaginations, as it is when the body is most waking and vigorous.
(3.) The soul is not buried with the body, to rise with it at the resurrection, as a gentleman in these parts hath lately asserted; because it is not mortal, nor subject to death, for Solomon saith, Eccles. xii. 7, * Acts i. 25. Revel. xiv. 13.
+ Luke xvi. 22.
"The spirit shall return to God who gave it," to receive its final sentence of absolution or condemnation; and this is at death, "when the dust returns to the earth, as it was.”
(4.) The soul goes not to purgatory, as Papists affirm, to be cleansed from venial sins: we deny it, as having no warrant from the word of God, which mentions only two places for men after this life, heaven and hell, joy and torment.* All the ancient fathers are against it: Augustin saith, "After this life, there remains no compunction or satisfaction. Christ's blood, applied in this life, is the only purgatory for sins," 1 John i. 7. Heb. i. 3.
Obs. 4. The spirits of just or pious persons, and only they, are made perfect after this life.
Perfection must be taken in a double sense: first, of parts; secondly, of degrees. In the former, every sincere Christian is perfect in this life, with a gospel perfection of sincerity in heart and life; but no man on earth will attain to the latter. Paul himself renounceth it, Phil. iii. 12, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." As to the former, he asserts it of all sincere saints, verse 15, "Let us therefore as many as be perfect be thus minded." We must hold this distinction, or make Paul contradict himself. But as soon as the breath of a child of God departs out of his body, he is completely perfect. "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away," 1 Cor. xiii. 10. O happy day! O blessed state! "When such as are feeble shall be as David, and the house of David as God, as the angel of the Lord before them: when every one shall arrive at a perfect age, at the
* Luke xvi. 25, 26. John iii. 3. Rev. xxii. 14, 15.
measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ!"* But this is not the subject of which I shall treat.
We must consider the text as relating to the context; and then we must go back to verse 22, wherein we have a most excellent description of the gospel dispensation, as contra-distinguished from the legal economy. We have the following particulars: We are come; that is, new testament believers, being united and associated, have come,
1. To mount Sion, the blessed place of worship where the temple stood, whither all the males went yearly to worship; it was holy by God's special consecration. So believers are come to whatsoever was typified thereby, gospel worship, and most excellent privileges, Eph. ii. 14-22.
2. To the heavenly Jerusalem, that is, to the church catholic, of a heavenly descent, and as heavenly an ascent; it comes from above, is part of that Jerusalem above; governed by heaven's laws in the gospel charter; of invincible strength, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it;" of wonderful beauty and harmony.†
3. To an innumerable company of angels. A thousand thousands minister unto him, ten thousand times ten thousand stand before him. To these, saints below are gathered, in Christ; with these they have communion, as being all of one family. Holy angels are God's officers for the saints' good, and guard them to heaven.
4. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven. Instead of all the males coming to worship, now we are come to all the members of the church, Jews and Gentiles, through
*Zech. xii. 8. Eph. iv. 13. + Gal. iv. 26. Matt. xvi. 18. Col. ii. 19. Dan. vii. 10. Eph. i. 10. iv. 10, 15.
out the world; who are all real saints, elect souls, written in the Lamb's book of life, animated with one spirit. *
5. To God the judge of all, that is, the Lord paramount of his church, the object, author, and end of all gospel transactions. We have interest in a propitious God, are accepted in the beloved; he is the defender of his saints, punisher of their enemies, recompenser of upright services, comforter of their hearts, all in all.†
6. To the spirits of just men made perfect, that is, freed from sin, complete in grace, in full communion with God, having received their full reward in God's immediate presence, "having fought the good fight, finished their course, and kept the faith," and who are now wearing the triumphant crown of righteousness which they will wear to all eternity.‡
7. To Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. This, this is the Alpha and Omega, partaking of a human and divine nature. He is the author and finisher of our faith, the bright and morning star, the corner-stone of our salvation; || a prophet transcending Moses, a mediator of a better covenant, confirming all by his death.
8. To the blood of sprinkling, that precious blood which is of more value than heaven and earth; this sprinkling of blood was the highest performance in his mediatorial office on earth; and this he manages now when he is in heaven, having entered into the holy of holies, to apply the benefits of his undertaking, and to appear in the presence of God for us.§ But to return to the words of the text:
* Rev. xxi. 27. Rom. viii. 17. Eph. iv. 5-11.
+ Eph. i. 6. Isa. liv. 17.
2 Tim. iv. 8.
Rom. viii. 32.