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to the next; and marry in us, the spirit of thankfulness, for all thy benefits already bestowed upon us, and the spirit of prayer for the continuance, and enlargement of them. Continue, and enlarge them, O God, upon thine universal church, &c.
MATTHEW xxii. 30.
For, in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are
as the angels of God in heaven. Of all commentaries upon the Scriptures, good examples are the best and the liveliest ; and of all examples those that are nearest, and most present, and most familiar unto us; and our most familiar examples, are those of our own families, and in families, the masters of families, the fathers of families, are most conspicuous, most appliable, most considerable. Now, in exercises upon such occasions as this, ordinarily, the instruction is to be directed especially upon those persons, who especially give the occasion of the exercise that is, upon the persons to be united in holy wedlock : for, as that is a difference between sermons and lectures, that a sermon intends exhortation principally and edification, and a holy stirring of religious affections, and then matters of doctrine, and points of divinity, occasionally, secondarily, as the words of the text may invite them; but lectures intend principally doctrinal points, and matter of divinity, and matter of exhortation but occasionally, and as in a second place: so that is a difference between christening sermons, and marriage sermons, that the first, at christenings, are especially directed upon the congregation, and not upon the persons who are to be christened ; and these, at marriages, especially upon the parties that are to be united; and upon the congregation, but by reflection. When therefore to these persons of noble extraction, I am to say something of the duties, and something of the blessings of marriage, what God commands, and what God promises in that state, in his Scriptures, I lay open to them, the best exposition, the best commentaries upon those Scriptures, that is, example, and the nearest example, that is, example in their own family, when, with the prophet Isaiah’, I direct them, to look upon the rock, from whence they are heun, to propose to themselves their own parents, and to consider there the performance of the duties of marriage imposed by God in St. Paul, and the blessings proposed by God in David, Thy wife shall be a fruitful vine by the sides of thy house, thy children like olice-plants round about thy table'; for, to this purpose of edifying children by example; such as are truly religious, fathers in families, are therein truly learned fathers of the church ; a good father at home, is a St. Augustine, and a St. Ambrose in himself; and such a Thomas: may have governed a family, as shall, by way of example, teach children, and children's children more to this purpose, than any Thomas Aquinas can. Since therefore these noble persons have so good a glass to dress themselves in, the useful, as the powerful example of parents, I shall the less need to apply myself to them, for their particular instructions, but may have leave to extend myself upon considerations more general, and such as may be appliable to all, who have, or shall embrace that honourable state, or shall any way assist at the solemnizing thereof; that they may all make this union of marriage, a type, or a remembrancer of their union with God in heaven. That as our Genesis is our E.rodus, (our proceeding into the world, is a step out of the world) so every gospel may be a revelation unto us : all good tidings (which is the name of gospel) all that ministers any joy to us here, may reveal, and manifest to us, an interest in the joy and glory of heaven, and that our admission to a marriage here, may be our invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb there, where in the resurrection, we shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be as the angels of God in heaven.
1 Isaiah Li. i.
These words our blessed Saviour spake to the Sadducees; who not believing the resurrection of the dead, put him a case that one woman hath had seven husbands, and then whose wife, of those seven, should she be in the resurrection ? they would needs suppose, and presume, that there could be no resurrection of the body, but that there must be to all purposes, a bodily use of the body too, and then the question had been pertinent, Whose wife of the seten shall she be? But Christ shows them their error, in the weakness of the foundation, she shall be none of their wives, for, in the resurrection, they neither marry, &c. The words give us
2 Psalm cxxviii. 3.
this latitude, when Christ says, In the resurrection they marry not, &c. from thence flows out this concession, this proposition too; till the resurrection they shall marry, and be given in marriage; no inhibition to be laid upon persons, no imputation, no aspersion upon the state of marriage. And when Christ says, Then they are as the angels of God in hearen, from this flows this concession, this proposition also, till then we must not look for this angelical state, but, as in all other states and conditions of life, so in all marriages there will be some incumbrances, betwixt all married persons, there will arise some unkindnesses, some misinterpretations; or some too quick interpretations may sometimes sprinkle a little sourness, and spread a little, a thin, a dilute and washy cloud upon them; then they marry not, till then they may; then their state shall be perfect as the angels, till then it shall not ; these are our branches, and the fruits that grow upon them, we shall pull in passing, and present them as we gather them.
First then, Christ establishes a resurrection, a resurrection there shall be, for that makes up God's circle. The body of man was the first point that the foot of God's compass was upon: first, he created the body of Adam: and then he carries his compass round, and shuts up where he began, he ends with the body of man again in the glorification thereof in the resurrection. God is Alpha and Omega, first, and last; and his alpha and omega, his first, and last work is the body of man too. Of the immortality of the soul, there is not an express article of the creed: for that last article of the life everlasting, is rather de præmio, et pæna, what the soul shall suffer, or what the soul shall enjoy, being presumed to be immortal, than that it is said to be immortal in that article; that article may, and does presuppose an immortality, but it does not constitute an immortality in our soul, for there would be a life everlasting in heaven, and we were bound to believe it, as we were bound to believe a God in heaven, though our souls were not immortal. There are so many evidences of the immortality of the soul, even to a natural man's reason, that it required not an article of the creed, to fix this notion of the immortality of the soul. But the resurrection of the body is discernible by no other light, but that of faith, nor could be fixed by any less assurance than an article of the creed. Where be all the splinters of that bone, which a shot hath shivered and scattered in the air? Where be all the atoms of that flesh, which a corrosive hath eat away, or a consumption hath breathed, and exhaled away from our arms, and other limbs? In what wrinkle, in what furrow, in what bowel of the earth, lie all the grains of the ashes of a body burnt a thousand years since ? In what corner, in what ventricle of the sea, lies all the jelly of a body drowned in the general flood ? what coherence, what sympathy, what dependence maintains any relation, any correspondence, between that arm which was lost in Europe, and that leg, that was lost in Africa or Asia, scores of years between? One humour of our dead body produces worms, and those worms suck and exhaust all other humour, and then all dies, and all dries, and moulders into dust, and that dust is blown into the river, and that puddled water tumbled into the sea, and that ebbs and flows in infinite revolutions, and still, still God knows in what cabinet every seed-pearl lies, in what part of the world every grain of every man's dust lies; and sibilat populum suum, (as his prophet speaks in another case“) he whispers, he hisses, he beckons for the bodies of his saints, and in the twinkling of an eye, that body that was scattered over all the elements, is sat down at the right hand of God, in a glorious resurrection. A dropsy hath extended me to an enormous corpulency, and unwieldiness; a consumption hath attenuated me to a feeble macilency and leanness, and God raises me a body, such as it should have been, if these infirmities had not intervened and deformed it. David could go no further in his book of Psalms, but to that, Let ecery thing that hath breath praise the Lord; Ye, says he, ye that have breath, praise ye the Lord, and that ends the book: but, that my dead body should come to praise the Lord, this is that new song, which I shall learn, and sing in heaven; when not only my soul shall magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoice in God my Saviour; but I shall have mine old eyes, and ears, and tongue, and knees, and receive such glory in my body myself, as that, in that body, so glorified by God, I also shall glorify him. So very a body, so perfectly a body shall we have there, as that Mahomet, and his followers, could not consist in those heavenly functions of the body, in glorifying God, but misimagine a feasting and banqueting, and all carnal pleasures of the body in heaven too. But there Christ stops; a resurrection there shall be, but, in the resurrection we shall not marry, &c.
They shall not marry, because they shall have none of the uses of marriage; not as marriage is physic against inordinate affections; for every soul shall be a consort in itself, and never out of tune; not as marriage is ordained for mutual help of one another ; for God himself shall be entirely in every soul; and what can that soul lack, that hath all God? Not as marriage is a second and a suppletory eternity, in the continuation and propagation of children; for they shall have the first eternity, individual eternity in themselves. Therefore does St. Luke assign that reason why they shall not marry, because they cannot die. Because they have an eternity in themselves, they need not supply any defect, by a propagation of children.
But yet, though Christ exclude that, of which there is clearly no use in heaven, marriage, (because they need no physic, no mutual help, no supply of children, yet he excludes, not our knowing, or our loving of one another upon former knowledge in this world, in the next; Christ does not say expressly we shall, yet neither does he say, that we shall not, know one another there. Neither can we say, we shall not, because we know not how we should. Adam, who was asleep when Eve was made, and neither saw, nor felt any thing that God had done, knew Eve upon the very
first sight, to be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh”. By what light knew he this? And in the transfiguration of Christ, Peter, and James, and John knew Moses and Elias®, and by what light knew they them, whom they had never seen? Nor can we, or they, or any, be imagined to have any degree of knowledge of persons, or actions, though but occasionally, and transiently, in this life, which we shall not have inherently, and permanently in the next. In the types of the general resurrection, which were particular resuscitations of the dead in this world, the dead were restored to the knowledge of their friends: when Christ raised the son of the widow of Nain, he delivered him to his mother; when Peter raised Tabitha, he called the saints and the widows, and presented her alive unto them. So God says to
• Luke xx. 35.
7 Gen, ii. 23,
8 Matt. xvii. 3.