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66 It is ap
ground.” None of us can claim an higher ! 3d. It deserves our notice, that the extraction. We may all say to corruption, apostle not only calls the body an earthly Thou art my father, and to the worm, house, but the earthly house of a taberthou art my mother and my sister. And nacle, to make us still more sensible of its as the body is an earthly house with re- meanness and frailty.
A tabernacle or spect to its original, so it is constantly tent, you know, is a very slender habitasupported and repaired by that which tion—a few slight poles put in the ground, grows out of the earth. “ The king him- and a piece of canvas, or painted cloth, self,” says Solomon, "is served by the thrown over them; yet such is the body
yea, after a little time, we must of a man, a fair but frail tenement, liable all be reduced unto earth again. These to be thrown down, or torn in pieces by bodies will shortly mix with the common every blast of wind. At any rate, we are clay. Dust we are, and unto dust we shall told, in the return. This, I confess, is a very hum- 4th place, That these earthly tabernacles bling representation; but as it is true, it must at length be dissolved.' Death will ought not to be slightly regarded by any soon plant its batteries against them; this of us; and young people, in a peculiar king of terrors will storm them with manner, may reap much advantage from troops of pains and diseases, and shall in it. You perhaps are strong and healthy, the issue so far prevail, as to dislodge the and, with respect to outward form, either soul from the body, and throw down the have, or fancy you have, advantages be- house of clay, crumbling it into that dust yond others. Come hither, then, and from which it was taken. This is not a view yourselves in the glass of my text. bye-law that binds only a few, but an uniYour bodies, in their highest perfection, versal royal statute that stands in force are but earthly houses; and after all the against the whole human race. pains you can take
take upon them, their pointed for all men once to die,” saith beauty will shortly consume like the moth. this apostle; hence the road to the grave If age do not wrinkle it, death will dis- is called the way of all the earth, and the solve it. The comeliest body shall ere grave itself is styled in Scripture, the long be as loathsome as the dirt on the house appointed for all living. Even the streets, and must be buried several years bodies of the saints, which have been the out of sight too, before it can be borne temples of the Holy Ghost, are subject to with as well. Need I tell you then, that this awful decree; they too must be disthe noble inhabitant within is by far most solved and see corruption; but with this worthy of your care and attention. Here material difference, that in due time they your labor can never be lost: for when shall be raised up again in glory and inthe dust shall return to the earth as it corruption. Nor shall their souls for any was, the spirit shall return to God who space be destitute of an habitation ; for, as gave it; it survives the ruins of this the apostle here informs us, “ they have a earthly tenement, and, if adorned while building of God, an house not made with here with the beauties of holiness, it shall hands, eternal in the heavens.” And this flourish eternally in the presence of God, is the in whose presence is fulness of joy, and II. Branch of the text, upon which I at whose right hand are pleasures for shall offer a few obvious remarks.
Be persuaded, then, my dear pose you have already observed, that this friends, to make the improvement of your figurative description of the future happy souls your principal study. They were state of the saints, is conceived in terms made at first after the likeness of God, of opposition to their present state of and herein consisted both their glory and frailty and mortality. Once, indeed, the felicity. Let this then be your highest apostle calls the body a house, but he ambition, your constant unwearied endea- immediately explains his meaning, by callvor, to get this divine image re-instamped ing it a tabernacle, a slender thing which upon them, that being purged and refined is easily taken down, or moved out of its from all your dross, you may become meet place ; whereas their future abode is styl. for the inheritance of the saints in light. Ied an house, without any diminishing
epithet, a place of rest and safety, where saints and sinners, meet together, and are they dwell with God the great Master of promiscuously entertained. Here the god the family, and enjoy the sweetest com- ly live as in a strange land, amidst the munion with the Father of their spirits, enemies of their Father and their King, and all those social pleasures which the com- where their righteous souls are vexed from pany and conversation of their brethren day to day, with the unlawful deeds and and fellow-servants can be supposed to filthy conversation of those among
whom give them
they are obliged to dwell. But heaven is Our blessed Lord, in his last consola- a place of perfect purity, where there is tory discourse to his disciples, made choice nothing that defileth, nothing to hurt or of the same similitude, as best adapted to destroy. None shall be able to ascend dispel that gloom which was hanging over into that hill of God, none can dwell in their minds. “ In my Father's house," that holy place, but such as have clean said he,“ are many mansions ; if it were hands and pure hearts : who are washed, not so, I would have told you. I go to and sanctified, and justified, in the name prepare a place for you; and if I go and of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of prepare a place for you, I will come again our God. And, and receive you to myself, that where I Last of all, this house in the heavens is am, there ye may be also.
And is not farther described and commended by its this, my brethren, a delightful representa- duration. It is not subject to decay or tion of the saints' felicity ? Every word dissolution, it is an eternal house, an inis full of melody. The very notion of an corruptible inheritance, a kingdom that house or home is agreeable, especially to a cannot be shaken. All other things shall poor pilgrim, who is tossed and persecut- wax old and perish, but this shall endure ed in a malignant world, and perhaps, like for ever and ever. his great Master, has not where to lay his But who are the persons for whom this head. But to what a height must our joy building of God is prepared; or how shall arise, when we hear that this is the house we know whether we belong to that happy of God himself, the house of the Father of number ?--This, my brethren, is a most our Lord Jesus Christ, where we shall important inquiry, which I propose to dwell with our dearest friend and benefac- make the subject of another discourse. tor, and have a place allotted us in those happy mansions which his blood hath purchased, and his infinite love hath prepared for us. This house is farther described by the
SERMON LXVIII. builder of it. The great God is the architect; and therefore we may be assured that nothing is wanting that can render it THE SAINTS' PRESENT AND FUTURE HOME. a fit habitation for his people. It is a house not made with hands; it was not 2 Cor. v. 1.-"For we know that if the earthly
house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we built by any creature, neither was it form
have a building of God, an house not made ed out of any pre-existent matter, but with hands, eternal in the Heavens.” created immediately by God himself. It is called his building by way of emi- In the first part of this verse, the apostle
All things were made by him; compares the body to an earthly house, but this was intended for the master-piece yea, to a tabernacle or tent, which is still of his works, the brightest display of his less durable, and more easily taken down; creating power and goodness.
and therefore the dissolution of such a This house is farther described by its frail thing ought not to be reckoned a very situation; it is a house in the heavens. great calamity. To this he opposes the The earth which we now inhabit is a val- glorious object of the Christian hope, ley of tears, a place of exile, a common which he calls “ a building of God, an inn as it were, where clean and unclean, house not made with hands, eternal in the
heavens.” At the same time expresses | ture we are all children of wrath, and can the firm persuasion which he had, in com- look for nothing but judgment and fiery mon with all true Christians, of being ad- indignation, to devour us as adversaries; mitted into that glorious and permanent but immediately upon our believing on the habitation, as soon as the earthly taber- Lord Jesus Christ, the great Mediator nacle should be dissolved. “We know.'' | between God and man, we pass from death He does not say we think, or we hope so, to life, God receives us into favor, adopts but we are assured of it; we are firmly us into his family, and invests us with a persuaded that this shall be our lot, as if title to all the privileges of children, of we were already entered upon the posses- which this is the greatest and the best, sion of it. In handling this important that we shall dwell with him for ever in branch of the subject, I propose, through the building here spoken of, this house divine aid,
not made with hands, eternal in the hea1. To describe the persons for whom vens. this building of God is prepared.
2dly. Another qualification by which II. To inquire how, or by what means the heirs of glory are distinguished, is this, they come to know that they shall certain that they are new creatures, born from ly possess it.
above, born again of the Spirit of God. And then direct you to the practical “If any man be in Christ, he is a new improvement of the whole.
creature: old things are passed away, beThe Psalınist proposes a question in the hold all things are become new.” Where24th Psalm, which you must all be sensi. as, “If any man have not the Spirit of ble deserves our most serious attention. Christ, he is none of his.” Except a “Who shall ascend into the hill of God, man be born again,” saith the faithful and and who shall stand in his holy place ?" true Witness, “ he cannot see the kingdom This is the question which I am now of God,” (John iii. 3, and verse 5.) going to answer; and as God enables me, cept a man be born of water and of the I shall follow the light of his own word, Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom and bring in nothing as
a mark of the of God." None but such as are born anew heirs of glory, but what is clearly express- shall find access into this building of God, ed in the Scriptures of truth, that infalli- when death pulls down these earthly table rule by which we must all be judged bernacles. Heaven therefore is styled the at last.
inheritance of the saints in light. Nothing 1st then, We are taught that this build- that is unclean can enter into that holy ing of God, this house in the heavens, is place. There must be a thorough change prepared for believers in Christ Jesus, and wrought in us before we can be admitted for them only, exclusive of all others. into the presence of God; for the Scrip“This is the will of him that sent me," tures are peremptory on this head, that says our blessed Lord, (John vi. 40.) without holiness no man shall see God. " that every one that seeth the Son, and Christ must be formed within us, before believeth on him, may have everlasting we can entertain the hope of glory. We life, and I will raise him up at the last only delude ourselves, if we look for hapday. He that believeth on the Son, hath piness till our souls are renewed by the everlasting life; he that believeth not Spirit of God; for flesh and blood can the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath never inherit the kingdom of heaven. А of God abideth on him." It is faith which new heart must be given us, a new spirit unites us to the Lord Jesus Christ, who must be put within us, before we can be is the heir of all things; for, “ to as many fit for the sight and enjoyment of a holy as receive him, to them gives he power to God. become the sons of God, even to them who A partial reformation of manners will believe on his name;"__and if once we are be of no avail—far less a mere abstinence made sons, then are we likewise heirs, from some grosser kinds of sin. The very heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, frame and temper of our minds must be and may confidently expect that inheri- altered. Our corruptions must not only tance which he hath purchased. By na-be restrained, but mortified. In a word, we must put off the whole old man, as the ye have done it unto me.” Upon this acapostle beautifully expresses it, "and put count, Paul exhorts Timothy, to charge on the new man, which after God is created them that are rich in this world, to do in righteousness and true holiness." good, to be rich in good works, ready to
3d. None shall dwell in this building distribute, willing to communicate, laying of God, this house not made with hands, up for themselves a good foundation against eternal in the heavens, but those who live the time to come, that they may lay hold as pilgrims and strangers upon the earth. on eternal life.” To the same purpose is If we seek the things which are above, that affectionate address of the apostle where Christ sitteth on the right hand of John, (1 John iii. 18, 19.) “My little God, then, and then only may we hope, children, let us not love in word, neither that when he who is our life shall appear, in tongue only, but in deed and in truth; we shall likewise appear with him in glory. and hereby we know that we are of the It is one of the distinguishing characters truth, and shall assure our hearts before of the wicked, that they mind earthly him." Not that any thing done by us can things. The children of God, on the other merit a reward at the hand of God; for hand, have their conversation in heaven. after we have done all, we are but unproThey look upon that as their home, and fitable servants, we have done no more view this world merely as a strange coun- than was our duty; but these acts of obetry, through which they must necessarily dience prove the sincerity of our faith and pass, before they can come to their Fa- love. They are the genuine fruits of the ther's house. This heavenly temper is one new nature, and may lawfully be considered of the most substantial evidences that are as evidences of our union with Christ, born from above; for every thing tends to "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and the place of its original. And as it proves righteousness, and sanctification, and retheir divine birth, so it is likewise à cer- demption.” Thus have I laid before you tain pledge of their future glory; for God a few distinguishing characters of the heirs will never abandon his own offspring :- of glory. These are the persons for whom " If the Spirit of him that raised üp Jesus God hath prepared this glorious building from the dead dwell in us, he that raised whereof my text speaks, this house not up Christ from the dead, shall also quick- made with hands, eternal in the heavens. en our mortal bodies, by his Spirit that And what I have said upon this head, will dwelleth in us.” He will certainly re- very much facilitate the build his own temples, and not suffer them II. INQUIRY proposed, namely, How, or to continue always under the ruins of by what means, the saints come to know death. I shall only add, in the
that they shall certainly possess this glo4th place, That a constant readiness to rious inheritance, when the earthly house do good to all, especially to those who are of this tabernacle is dissolved. of the household of faith, is another Scrip- Whatever proves our relation to Christ, ture mark by which the heirs of glory are at the same time proves our title to all the distinguished. This plainly appears from blessed fruits of his sufferings and death; the account which our Saviour gives us of for all the promises of God are in him, the process of the last judgment, (Matt. yea and amen. “He that spared not his own xxv. 34.) “ Then shall the King say unto Son, but delivered him up for us all, how them upon his right hand, Come, ye bless- shall he not with him also freely give us ed of 'my Father, inherit the kingdom all things." Whoever, then, can discover prepared for you from the foundation of in himself those gracious qualifications the world; for I was an hungered, and ye which I formerly named, has a sufficient gave me meat; thirsty, and ye gave me warrant to conclude that he is vitally drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me united to the Lord Jesus Christ, and conin; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, sequently an heir of that kingdom which
visited me; I was in prison, and ye he bath purchased. Thus Paul says of came unto me." Which he afterwards the primitive Christians, that “they took explains thus: "inasmuch as ye did it joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowunto one of the least of these my brethren, ling in themselves that they had in heaven
a better and enduring substance." They the heavens.” I now come to the practiknew it in themselves; by looking inwards, cal improvement of the subject. they discovered such traces of the divine And, ist. I must speak a few words to image, they felt such a supernatural life those who call themselves Deists. I know begun in their souls, as could be produced if you could you would stop our mouths, by no other agent than the Spirit of God, and bury the name of the Lord Jesus and might therefore be looked upon as a Christ; and yet I shall not cease to seek sure presage of their future glory. You your good, and say from time to time what see then how this assurance is commonly I can for your conviction. I seldom read obtained. The Scriptures describe the the threatenings of the word, but I think persons who shall infallibly be saved. The of you with trembling; and I never read Christian compares himself with this un- the comforts of it, but I think of you with erring rule; and finding that the essential pity. Pray, what assurance have you got characters agree to him, from thence he of a happy eternity ? In what house are concludes the certainty of his own salva- you to take up your everlasting abode ? tion. He proceeds after this manner: Alas, every thing beyond the grave must God, who cannot lie, hath said, “He that be dark and fearful to you. You have no believeth shall be saved;"_after the most promise to build upon—no Mediator to serious and impartial examination, I find take hold of--no atonement to plead—no reason to conclude that by grace I have covenant to depend upon. You know that been enabled to believe-therefore I am God is just, and you know that you are persuaded that I shall be saved.
sinners—thus far you can proceed in your The first of these propositions is abso- own scheme with certainty; but I defy lutely sure, having the truth and faithful- you to move one step farther upon sure ness of God for its foundation; the second, ground. You cannot prove that God is as it is a judgment or sentence of our own reconcilable, far less can you tell upon minds, must in its own nature be fallible, what terms he will be reconciled to you; and hence it is that believers have not all so that your causes of fear are real and of them an equal assurance of their salva- certain, whereas your hopes are mere guesstion. Though they are all persuaded, that work, having no other foundation than the he who believeth shall be saved, yet every doubtful conjectures of your own darkenone cannot say for himself, I am persuaded ed minds.. What will you do when you that I believe, and therefore I shall be come to die? A Christian can say, “I saved. Before a person can say this there know that my Redeemer liveth ; and be must be a farther work of the Spirit of cause he lives, I shall live also.” But God, even a divine light shining upon our what will you be able to say, who have no faith and other graces, and making them Redeemer, no intercessor, into whose visible to ourselves. We may derive good hands you can commit your departing ground of hope from a strict and careful spirits? who have nothing in your view examination of our own temper and prac- but a tribunal of justice, a tribunal from tice, but cannot arrive at a full assurance, which there is no appeal. Be entreated, till, as the apostle expresses it, (Rom. viii. my dear friends, to think of this in time. 16.)“ the Spirit himself bear witness with “ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye our spirits, that we are the sons of God.” perish from the way.” If once his wrath But when this divine Witness concurs begin to burn, then shall you find that with his testimony, irradiating his own they, and they only, are blessed who put workmanship within us, and discovering to their trust in him. But, our own minds such lineaments of the new 2dly. This comfortable subject doth creature, as plain evidence that we are born principally direct me to speak to Chrisof God, then our assurance is full and tians; and I shall address
exhortation complete; and we can joyfully say, with to you in the words of the apostle Peter, the apostle in the text, “We know, that “Give all diligence to make your calling if the earthly house of this tabernacle and election sure. That this assurance were dissolved, we have a building of God, is attainable you have already heard. Let an house not made with hands, eternal in me then press you, by some motives, to