« AnteriorContinuar »
not so formidable as we are apt, by our sinful sears, to represent them. They may, when God permits them, destroy your bodies, they cannot touch or dellroy your souls, Mat. x. 28• As to your bodies, no enemy can touch them till there be leave and permission given them by God, Job i. 10. The bodies of the saints, as well as their souls, are within the line or hedge of Diviue Providence: They are securely senced, sometimes mediately by the ministry of angels, Psal. xxxiv. 7. and sometimes immediately by his own hand and power, Zech. ii. 5. As to their souls, whatever power enemies may have upon them, (when divine permission opens a gap in the hedge of providence for f. them) yet they cannot reach their souls to hurt them, or destroy them, but by their own consent. They can destroy our perishing flesh, it is obnoxious to their malice and rage; they cannot reach home to the soul: No sword can cut asunder the bandof union between them and Christ; they would be dreadful enemies indeed if they could do so. Why then do we tremble and sear at'this rate, as if foul and body were at their mercy, and in their power and hand? The souls of those mar~ tyrs were in sasety under the altar in heaven, they were cloathed with -white robes, when their bodies were given to be meat to the fowls of heaven, and beasts of the earth. The devil drives but a poor trade by the persecution of the saints; he tears the nest, but the bird escapes; he cracks the shell, but loseih • the kernel. Two things make a powerful desenlative against: our sears: (t.) That all our enemies are in the hand of providence. (2.) That all providences are steered by that promise, Rom. viii. 28.
Infer. 9. If souls be immortal, Then there must needs be a vast difference betwixt the afpecls and insluences of death upon the godly and ungodly.
Oh! if souls would but seriously consider what an alteration death will make upon their condition, for evil or for good, how useful would such meditations be to them! (1.) They must be disseized and turned out of these houses of clay, and live in a state of separation from them; of this there is an inevitable necessity, Eccl. viii. 8. It is vain to say, I am not ready; ready or unready, they must depart when their lease is out. It is as vain to say, I am not willing; for willing or unwilling, they must be gone; there is no hanging back, and begging, Lord, let death take another at this time, and spare me; for no man dies by a proxy. (2.) The time of our fouls departure is at hand, a Pet. i. 13, 14. Job. xvi. 22. The most firm and well built body «u JUnd but a sew days; but our ruinous tabernacles give our souls warning, that the day of their departure is at hand. The lamp of lise is almost burnt down, the glass of time is almost run; yet a sew, a very sew days and nights more, and then. time, nights and days shall be no more. (3.) When that most certain and near-approaching time is come, wonderful alterations will be made on the state of all fouls, godly, and ungodly.
(1.) A marvellous alteration will then be made on the souls of •the godly. For, (1.) No sooner is the dividing stroke given by death, and the parting pull over, but they shall find themielves in the arms of angels, mounting them through the upper regions in a sew moments, sar above all the aspectable heavens, Luke xvi. 22. The airy region is, indeed, the place •where devils inhabit, and fiave their haunts and walks; but angels are the saints convoy through" Satan's territories, from the arms of mourning friends, into the welcome arms of officious and beDevolent angels. (2.) From the sight and converses of men, to the fight of God, Christ, and the general assembly of blessed and Unless spirits. The soul takes its leave of all men at death, Isa. xxxviii. 11. Farewel vain world, with all the mixed and impersect comforts of it, aud welcome the more sweet, suitable, and satisfying company of Father, Son, and Spirit, holy angels, and persected saints, Heb. xii. 23. (3.) From the bondage of corruption, to persect liberty, and everlasting freedom; so much is implied, Heb. xii. 23. " The spirits of just men made persect." (4.) From all sears, doubtings, and questionings of our conditions, and anxious debates of our title to Christ, to the clearest, . fullest, and most satisfying assurance; for what a man sees, how can he doubt of it? (5.) From all burdens of asfliction, inward and outward, under which we have groaned all our days, to&verlasting rest and ease, 2 Cor. v. i, 2, 3. Oh what a blessed change to the righteous must this be!
(2.) A marvellous change will also be then made upon the souls of the ungodly, who shall then part from (1.) All their comforts and pleasant enjoyments in the world; for here they had their consolation; Luke xvi. 25. here was all their portion, Psal. xvii. 14. and, in a moment, find themselves arrested and seized by Satan, as God's goaler, hurrying them away to the prison of hell, 1 Pet/ iii. 19. " there to be reserved to thejudg"ment of the great day," Jude 6. (2.) From under the means of grace, lise, and salvation, to a state persectly void of all means, instruments, and opportunities of salvation, John ix. 4. Eccl. ix. 10. never to hear the joyful sound of preaching or praying any more; never to heaT the wooing voice of the blessed bridegroom, saying, Coœe unto me, come unto me> any more. (3.) From all their vain, ungrounded, presumptuous hopes of heaven, into absolute and final deiperation of mercy. The very sinews and nerves of hope are cut by death, Prov. xiv.. 31. •'* The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righte'• ous hath hope in his death." These are the great and ailouilhiug alterations that will be made upon our souls, after they part with the bodies which they now inhabit. Oh that we, who cannot but be conscious to ourselves that we must over live our bodies, were more thoughtful of the condition they mult enter into, after that separation which is at hand.
Infer. 10. If ou,r. fouls be immortal, then death is neither to be feared by them in heaven, nor hoped for them in heli. The being of souls never fails, whether they be in a state of bleflednefs or of misery. "In glory they are ever with the Lord." 1 Thes. iv. 17. There shall be no death there, Rev. xxi. 4. And in hell, though they shall wish for death, yet death (hall flee from them *. Though there be no sears of annihilation in heaven, yet there may be many wishes for it in hell, but to no purpose; there never will be an end put, either to their being, or to their torments. In this respect no other creatures are capable of the misery that wicked men are capable of: When they die, there .is the end of all their misery; but it is not so with men. Better therefore had it been for them, if God had created them in the basest, and lowest order and rank of creatures; a dog, a toad, a worm, is better than a man in endlels misery, ever dying, and never dead. And so much of the scads immortality. .'
* * *******************
Eph. v. 29. For no man ever yet hated his own ftefb; but nourifbeth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.
TT AVING given some account of the nature and immorta.*..*. Iity of the soul, we next come, from this text, to discourse of its love and inclination to the body, with which it is united. The scope of the apostle is, to press Christians to the exact discharge of those relative duties they owe to each other; particularly, he here urgeth the mutual duties of husbands and wives, ver. 22. wives to an obedient subjection, husbands to a tender love of their wives. This exhortation he ensorceth from the
* O death thou art sweet to those to whom thou wast formerly bitter: They desire thee alone, who did hate thee alone. August, intimate union, which, by the ordinance of God, is betwixt them, they being now one stcih. And this union he illustrates by compariog it with,
r. The mystical union of Christ and the church.
2. The natural union of the foul and body.
And fron both these, as excellent examples and patterns, he, with great strength of argument, urgeth the duty of love; ver. 28. " So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; he "that loveth his wise, loveth himself." Self love is naturally implanted in all men, and it is the rule by which we measure
out and dispense our love to others. "Thou [halt love thy
"neighbour as thyself."
This self-love he opens in this place, by,
(1.) The universality of it.
(2.) The efsects that evidence it.
1. The universality of it. No man ever yet bated his own Jlejh. By.flejb, understand the body by an usual metonymy of apart for the whole, called flesh. By hating it, understand a simple hatred, or hatred itself. It is usual for men to hate the deformities and diseases of their own bodies, and upon that account to deal with the members of their own bodies as if they hated them; hence it is, they willingly stretch forth a gangrened leg or arm to be cut off, for the preservation of the rest: but this is not a simple hatred of a man's self, but rather an argument of the strength of the foul's love to the body, that it will be content to endure so much pain and anguish for its fake. Aad if the foul be at any time weary of, and willing to part, not with a single member only, but with the whole body, and loaths its union with it any longer, yet it hates it and loath* it not simply in, and for itself, but because it is so filled with diseases all over, and loads the soul daily with so much grief, that how well soever the soul loves it in itself, yet upon such sad terms and conditions it would not be tied to it. This was Job's case, Job x. 1. "My soul is weary of my lise;" yet not simply of his lise, but of such a lise, in pain and trouble. Except it be in such respects and cases, no man, faith he, ever yet hated his own flesh; i.e. no man in his right mind, and in the exercise of his reason and sense l for we must except distracted and delirious men, who know not what they do, as also men under the terrors of conscience, when God sufsers it to rage in extremity, as Spira and others, who would have been glad with their own hands to have cut the threed that tied their miserable souls to their bodies, supposing that way, and by that change, to find some relief. Either of these cases forces men to act beside the
slated rule of nature and reason.
2. This love of the soul to the body is further discovered by the efsects which evidence it, viz. its nourishing and cherishing the body, s*Tfi£H Kcu These two comprize the necessaries for the body, viz. food and raiment. The first signisies to nourish with proper food; the latter to warm by cloathing, as the word toss* is rendered, James ii. 16. to which the Hebrew word DT answers, Job xxxi. 20. The care and provision of these things for the body evidences the soul's love to it.
Doct. That the souls of men are strongly inclined, and tenderly ajjsetled, towards the bodies in which they now dwell.
The soul's love to the body is so strong, natural, and inseparable, that it is made the rule and measure by which we dispense aud proportion our love to others, Matth. xix. 19. "Thou "shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." And the apostle, Gal. v. 14. tells us, That the whole law, i. e. the second table of the law, is fulfilled, or summed up in this precept, "Thou "fhalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The meaning is not, that all and every one who is our neighbour, must be equally near to us as eur own bodies; but it intends, (1.) The sincerity of our love to others, which most be without dissimulation, for we dissemble not in self-love. (2.) That we be as careful to avoid injuring others, as we would ourselves, Matth. vii. 12. To do by others, or measure to them, as we would have done or measured unto us: for which rule, Severus the Heathen emperor, honoured Christ and Christianity, and causedit to be written in capital letters of gold. (3.) That we take direction from this principle of self-love, to measure out our care, love, and respects to others, according to the difserent degrees of nearness in which we stand to them. As, (1.) The wise of our bosom, to whom, by this rule, is due our first: care and love, as in the text. (2.) Our children and samily, 1 Tim. v. 8. (3.) To all in general, whether we have any bond of natural relation upon them or no; but especially those to whom we are spiritually related, as Gal. vi. 10. And indeed, as every Christian hath a right to our love and care above. other men, so in some cases, we are to exceed. this rule of self-love, by a transcendent act of self-denial for them, 1 John. iii. 16. - And Paul went higher than that, in a glorious excess of charity to the community or body of God's people, preserring their salvation not only to his own body, but to his soul also, Rom. ix. 3. But to these extraordinary cases we are seldom (jailed; and if we be, the gospel furnished} us with an higher rule