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nuo: there is no stopping its swist course, or calling back a
moment that is past. Death set out in its journey towards
us the same hour we were born, and how near is it come this
day to many of us? It hath us in chase, and will quietly setch
us up, and overtake us; but sew stand so long as the utmost
2. Comparatively. Let us compare our time in these tabernacles, (i.) either with eternity, or with him who inhabits it, and it shrinks up into nothing; Psal. xxxix. 5. "Mine age is "nothing unto thee." So vast is the disproportion, that it seems not only little, but nothing at all. Or (2.) with the duration of the bodies of men in the first ages of the world, when they lived many hundred years in these fleshly tabernacles. The length of their lise was the benesit of the world, because religion was then awolpwafac/Won, a thing handed down from sather to ion; but certainly it would be no benefit to us that are in Christ, to be so jong suspended the fruition of God in the everlasting rest.
The grounds and reasons of this necessity that lies upon all, to put off their earthly tabernacles so soon, are
1. The law of God, or his appointment.
2. The providence of God ordering it suitable to this appointment.
1. The law or appointment of God which came in force immediately upon the sall; Gen. ii. 17. "In the day that thou "eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." And accordingly it took place upon all mankind immediately upon the first transgression, Rom. v. 12. Death entred by sin. The threatning was not his immediate, actual, personal death in the day that he should eat, but a state of mortality to commence from that time to him and his posterity; hence it is said, Heb. ix. 27. "It is appointed to "all men once to die."
2. The providence of God ordering and framing the body of man suitably to this his appointment; * a frail, weak creature, having the seeds of death in his constitution: Thousands of diseases and infirmities are bred in his nature, and the smallest pore in his body is a door large enough to let in death. Hence his body is compared to a piece of cloth which moths have fretted, Psal. xxxix. 11. it is become a sorry rotten thing which
* We die daily, for some part of lise is taken away daily, and then also when we increase, lise decreases, for first we lose insancy, then youth, cvsn to yesterday. \\ hatever part of time passes is lost.. cannot long hang together. And indeed it is a wonder it continues so long as it doth.
And both these, viz. the divine appointment and providence, are in pursuance of a double design, or for the payment of a twofold debt, which God owes to the first and to the second Adam.
(1.) By cutting off the lise, or dissolving the tabernacles of wicked men, God pays that debt of justice owing to the first Adam's sinful posterity, whose fina cry daily to his justice to cut them off. Rom. vi. 23. "The wages of sin is death." And indeed it is admirable that his patience suffers ungodly men to live so long as they do, for he endures with much long-suffering, Rom. ix. 22. He sees all their sins, he is grieved at the heart with them; his forbearance doth but encourage them the more to sin against him; Eccl. viii. 11. " Because sentence," <bc. yet forbears: "Forty years long was I grieved with this generati"on," Psal. xcv. 10. And it is wonderful that he hath so much patience under such a load. Habbakkuk admired it, Hab. i. 13. "Thou art of purer eyes," ire. Yet he suffers them to spend lavishly upon his patience from year to year, but justice must do its office at last.
(2.) By cutting off the lives of .good men, God pays to Christ the reward of his sufferings, the end of his death, which was to bring many sons to glory, Heb. ii. 10. Alas! it answers not Christ's end and intention in dying, to have his people so remote from him; John xvii. 24. "He would have them where "he is, that they might behold his gloiy." Two vehement desires are satisfied by this appointment of God, and its execution, viz.
2. The saints.
1. Christ's desires are satisfied ; for this is the thing he ail along kept his eye upon in the whole work of his mediation; it was to bringus to God, 1 Pet. iii. 18. Tho' he be in glory, yet his mystical body is not full till all the elect be gathered in by conversion, and gathered home by glorification, Eph. i. 23. The church is his fulness. He is not fully satisfied till he lee his seed, the sou's he died for, sase in heaven; and then the debt due to him for all his sufferings is fully paid him, Isa. liii. 11. He sees the travail of his foul. As it is the greatest satissaction. and pleasure a man is capable of in this world, to see a great design, which hath "been loni projecting and managing, at last, by an orderly conduct, brought to its persection.
2. The desires of the saints are hereby satisfied, and their weary souls brought to rest. Oh! what do gracious souls more pant after than the full enjoyment of God, and the visions of his sace! the state of freedom from fin, and complete conformity to Jesus Christ! From the day of their espousals to Christ, these desires hare been working in their louls. Love and patience have each acted its part in them, 2 ThefL iii. 5. Love bath put them into an holy ardor and longing to be with Christ: patience hath qualified and allayed those deiires,. and supported the foul under the delay. Love cries, Come, Lord, come; patience commands us to wait the appointed time. This appointed time, on which so great hopes and expectations depend, is the time of dissolving these tabernacles; for till then the foul's rest is suspended; and if it were persectly freed from all other loads and burdens, both of fin aud affliction, yet its very absence from Christ would alone make it restless: for it is with the soul in the body, as is with any other creature that is off its centre, it doth and must gravitate and propend, it is still moving and inclining sarther, and seels not itself easy and at rest where it is, be its condition in other respects never so easy. 2 Cor. v. 6. "Whilst we areas home in the body, we are absent ** from the Lord." You have a little shadow, or emblem of this in other creatures: You see the rivers, though they glide never so sweetly betwixt the fragrant banks of the most plealant meadows in their course and passage, yet on they go towards the scrI; and if they meet with never lo many rocks or hills to resist their course, they will either strive to get a passage through them, or if that may not be, they will setch a compass, and creep about them, and nothing can stop them till by a central force they have finished their weary course, and poured themselves into the bosom of the ocean. Or as it is with yourselves, when abroad from your habitations and relations: this may be pleasing a little while; but if every day might be a sestival, it would not long piease you, because you are not at home.
The main motives that persuade gracious souls to abide here, arc to finish the work of tbeir own salvation, and sarther other mens; but as their evidences for heaven grow clearer to themselves, and their capacity of service less to others, so must their desires to be with Christ be more and more inflamed.
New the case so standing, that Christ's condition in heaven, being a condition of desire and longing for the enjoyment of his people there, and all the glory of heaven would not content him without that; aud the condition of his people on earth, being »lso a state of longing, growling and panting to be with him, and all the pleasures and delights aed comforts they have oa earth, will not content them without it: How wise awl gracious an appointment of heaven is it, that these our tabernacles (hall and must be put off, and that shortly! For hereby a full and mutual satisfaction is given to the restless desires boih ot Christ's heart and of theirs: See the reflected flames of love betwixt them, in Rev. xxii. "The spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him "that is athirst come; Behold, I come quickly. Even so, Lord "Jesus; Come quickly." Delays make the heart fad, Prov. xiii. 12. should our commoration on earth be long, our patience had need be much greater than it is; but under all our burdens here, this is our relief, it is buta little while, and all will be well, as well as our fouls can desire to have it.
Infer. 1. Must we put off these tabernacles? Is death necessary and inevitable? Then it is cur wisdom to sweeten to ourselves that cup which vie must drink; and make that as pleasant to us, es vie can, -which vie know cannot be avoided. Die we must, whether we be fit, or unfit, willing, or unwilling: It is to no purpose to shrug at the name, or shrink back from the thing. In all ages of the world, death hath swept the stage dean of one generation, to make room for another, and so it will from age to age, till the stage be taken down, in the general dissolution. But though death be inevitable by all, it is not alike evil, bitter, and dreadful to all. Some tremble, others triumph, at the appearance of it. Some meet it half way, receive it as a friend, and can bid it welcome, and die by consent; making that the matter of their election, which, in itself, is necessary and unavoidable; so did Paul, Phil. i. 23. But others are drawn, or rent by plain violence from the body, Job xxvii. S. when God draws out their fouls.
That man is happy indeed, whose heart falls in with the appointment of God, so voluntarily and freely, as that he d*re not only look death in the face with confidence, but go along with it by consent of will. Remarkable to this purpose, is that which the apostle asserts of the frame of his own heart, 2 Cor. v. 8. " We are confident, I fay, and willing rather to be ab"sent from the body, and present with the Lord." Here is both confidence and complacence, with respect to death, ©*ff^<e». The word signifies courage, fortitude; or, if you will, an undaunted boldness, and presence of mind, when we look the king of terrors in the face. We dare venture upon death, we dare take it by the cold hand, and bid it welcome. We dare defy its enmity, and deride its noxious power, 1 Cor. xv. 55. " O death! where is thy sling!" And that is not all, we have complacence in it, as well as coufidence to
encounter it. EuSi*B/af,, we are willing; the translation is ttn flat, We are well pleased; it is a desirable, a grateful thing tc us, to die; but yet not in an absolute, but comparative conii deration, »»&«*^.%v /u*aao», we are willing rather, i~ e. rather thin not iee, and enjoy our Lord Jesus Christ; rather than to be here always finning, and groaning. There is no complacency in death; in itself it is not defireable. But if we must go through that strait gate, or not see God; we are willing rather to be abtent from the body. So that you see death was not the matter of his submission only, he did not yield to what he could not avoid, but he ballances the evils of death, with the privileges it admits the foul into, and then pronounces, tv$txia&, we are content, yea, pleased to die.
We cannot live always if we would, and our hearts should be wrought to that frame, as to fay, we would not live always if we could, Job vii. 16. " I would not live always," or long, faith he. But why should Job deprecate that which was not attainable ?" I would not live always;" he needed not to trouble himself about that, it being impossible that he should: both statute and natural law forbid it. Ay, but this is bis sense: supposing no such necessity as there is, if it were pure matter of election; upon a due ballancing of accounts, and comparing the good and evil of death, I would not be confined always, or for any long time to the body. It would be a bondage unsupportable to be here always.
Indeed thofe that have their portion, their all, in this lise, have no desire to be gone hence. They that.were never changed by grace, desire no change by death; if such a concession were made to them, as was once to an English parliament, That they should never be dissolved, but by their own consent, when would they say as Paul, "I desire to be dissolved?" But it is far otherwise with them, whose portion and affections are in another world; they would not live always if they might; knowing, that never to die, is never to be happy.
Quest. If yon fay, This is an excellent, and most desirable temper of soul; hut how did these holy men attain it? or what is the course we may take to get the like frame of willingness?
Hoi. They attained it, and you may attain it in such methods as thi-ie.
f. They lived in the believing views of the invisible world, and so must you, if ever death be desirable in your eyes, 2 Cor. iv. 18. It is said of all that died comfortably, " that they died "in faith," Heb. xi. 13. You will never be willing to go aloag with death, except you know where it will cany you.