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II. But it may not be improper to take notice of some of the peculiarities of this house.
1. It is a curious house of brittle materials. "My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." The body of man is a stupendous piece of workmanship, of admirable curiosity. "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." The very outworks of the house are admirable. Are there any so dull as not to observe the wisdom of God in that beauty and majesty that are in the face of man, beyond that of other creatures, in the faculty of speech, and in the admirable diversity of features and voices. How God has put the eyes and the ears in the head as in their watch tower; that they may the better serve for seeing and hearing. How the eyes are made rolling, that in a moment they can turn up or down, to one side or to another; covered with lids that we can shut or open as need requires. The ears always open, the tongue shut in with double leaved gates. Two arms to defend ourselves. These are the guardians of the house. Hands distinguished into so many fingers, for the more exquisite kinds of work. Nay, there is not a hair, nor nail in the body, but has its use. The hair on the eye lids to defend the eyes; the nails on our fingers are necessary for the more dexterous handling of any thing. What then must be the curiosity within. Galen admired the wisdom of the Creator in the thigh of a gnat. How much more is this wisdom, to be admired in the stucture of the human body, in which there is nothing lacking, nothing superfluous.
But now the more curious, the more easily marred. The greatest beauty is soonest tarnished. The finer the earthen vessel is, it is the more easily broken. So we are exposed to the greatest danger by a small touch.
2. It is a house that needs reparation daily. A good, well built house will need nothing for many years. Your meanest houses once right, need nothing for a year. But this earthly house needs reparation daily. It is reckoned by some that as much matter goes out of our bodies by insensible perspiration, as by the other natural evacuations. Thus a large proportion of our nourishment, perhaps five eights, goes out by the pores. Thus our bodies are in a continual flux, wasting like the oil of a lamp; so that in this sense we are dying daily. Hence eating and drinking are necessary, the house must be patched up with more mud daily. And some are so taken up with repairing the body, that all the day they do nothing else.
Uses from this Doctrine.
1. Prize your souls above your bodies, as you do the inhabitant above the house. O what madness is it in the hearts of men, who care for the body neglecting the soul. Will you be still looking after the house, and never minding the never dying inhabitant the soul? shall the soul be ruined, starved, and perish, while all the care is about the body.
2. Make not your body a war house against heaven. It is far too weak for that purpose. True, but many do it. While health and strength last, they securely fight against God, trample on his law, despise his Son, little minding how God may block them up in their house by disease, or pull down their house by death.
3. Be tender in the house. Though it is an earthly house it hath a heavenly inhabitant. Take care of the house for the sake of the soul. Such is the perverseness of man's nature, that many use their bodies worse than they do their beasts. Some will see well to their beasts that cannot bestow meat convenient on their own bodies; and work their bodies at a rate at which they would be sorry to work their beasts. The drunkard and the glutton treat their horses better than they treat their own bodies. They take care of their horses, but ruin their own bodies.
4. Never ruin the inhabitant for the house. Would you not think him mad that would strip himself naked to cover his house. Better surely that the house be uncovered than that the inhabitant be left naked. Yes, but this madness has seized the generality of the world. They will pamper their bodies while they will be cruel as the Ostrich to their souls. They will be all anxiety about food and raiment, who will take no more care about their souls than if they were but salt to keep their bodies from putrefaction. They will load their consciences with mountains of guilt, if by that means they can get a little more thick clay to the earthly house.
5. Beware of defiling the house, seeing it has such a noble lodger. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." Sin defiles the body. When the members of the body, which should be instruments of righteousness, are made instruments of sin; a covetous or wanton eye, a disorderly tongue, given to lying or swearing: hands and feet employed in mischief, make the body a foul lodging for the soul. And these will be stains, which, without repentance, will cleave to the body in the grave and at the resurrection.
6. Take heed to the door of the house.
Set a watch, O Lord, be
fore my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Let the door be duly shut and discreetly opened. Open your mouth with wisdom. When the door stands always open the dweller is in danger; and in the multitude of words there wanteth not folly. They can hardly speak well that speak much. Words, few, select, and and sobriety are best both for soul and body. many are the dung-gate standing always open, that the devil may drive out at it the filth of the heart in lies, slanders, oaths, and impure language. But surely they will be silent in the grave.
seasoned with grace But the mouths of
7. Take heed to the windows of the house. The soul got its death wound at first by the window. "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat." And Satan will still attack where he made the first breach. Therefore Job put the guard of a covenant upon them. I made, says he, a covenant with mine eyes. They are two little rolling members which a splinter of wood may close up altogether; but they are gates of destruction broad enough.
6. Dispatch your business with the stranger that is in the house, always going out and in, that you be not surprised with his departure, before you have done your business with him. I mean your breath. It is going continually out and in, to and from the door of your lips, and you know not what will be the last breath. But when once gone, no more business can be done for time or eternity. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Lastly, Provide in time for a better house. You must depart from this. Inquire, then, to what place you are going, for here you cannot stay long. And if you have not your lodging taken up in heaven, you will get a dungeon house for eternity, where the light is as darkness. Awake then, O sluggard, up and be doing. Mind the days of eternity for they shall be many.
Motives.-1. This house will tumble down about your ears, whatever you do to hold it up. Fix one foot then, before the other be loosed, lest you get such a fall as you will never rise again. This body is but a lodging house, it cannot stand very long. Look for another.
2. There are but two places, heaven and hell, in one of which you must dwell for ever. In heaven there are many mansions of glory, and yet there is room for you. In hell every person will get their own place of torment and misery unspeakable. The saints departed, are gone home to their mansions; the wicked departed, are gone to their place. We are upon the road. What way will you turn your
face? Take what way you please, you will soon be at the end of it. 3. You have no security of your house, you know not how soon you may be turned out of doors. Now for a house to the body, you will not readily want it; as much room as will serve you, you will certainly get in the grave, the house appointed for all living. That will be the body's long home. But where think you will be your eternal home? When the soul is turned out at death, to what place will it next go? I hope to heaven. Then what evidence have you from this Bible for that hope? I do not know. How comes that? Are you busy seeking evidences, but cannot come to light? May the Lord clear up your darkness! But I fear many know nothing about this work. You are careless whether you land in heaven or hell. You know not but you may be in hell the next moment. The brittle thread of life is not to be depended upon; therefore "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
Doctrine II. Man's body is a Tabernacle, or Tent for his soul. Paul was a tent-maker, and he takes a lesson of his frailty from what was among his hands, teaching us to do the same. called,
It is so
1. Because it is easily taken down. Whatever force may be necessary to pull down a house, it is easy to pull down a tent. There needs no more but to loose the cords, and pull out the pins, and the tent lies along. So easily is man's body taken down by death. Having its foundation in the dust, it is crushed before the moth. A very little thing indeed may rob man of his mortal life.
2. A Tent is a moveable house that stands not always in one place, but is carried from place to place. So while we are in the body, we are not come to the place of our rest, or settled habitation. Heaven ever moves, yet is it the place of our rest, earth ever stands still, yet it is not a place of rest. While we are in the body, our case is changeable, but when once out of it, is unalterable for ever, whether in happiness or misery.
3. Tents, though mean without, may be precious within. However mean outwardly the tabernacle of the body be, it has a precious soul within, of more worth than ten thousand worlds. It is a rich tent in that respect, because of the precious soul, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, capable of enjoying God for ever.
4. Our state in the world in this body is like that of those who dwell in tents. Our body is as the shepherd's tent. Our souls are those we have to feed while we are in the body. And the shepherd's tent must not stand long in one place, but must soon be
removed. So must our bodies into the grave. The body is a soldier's tent. We are set down in the world, to fight the good fight of faith, and we must lay our account with hardships and of being conquerors, otherwise we will be surprized in our tents, and ruined. It is a pilgrim's tent. We are in our way to another world; and the lodging the soul has in the body, is but a lodging as in a tent by the way.
Uses of this Doctrine.
1. We need not wonder then at sudden death. It has often been seen that a tent has fallen down when not a hand touched it. It is a weak thing, but man's body is as weak before the king of terrors, that can dispatch it in a moment.
2. Let us lay our accounts with hardships while we are in the body. They that dwell in tents do not expect the ease and conveniencies which a house affords. And why should we wonder at the troubles with which we meet while in the body. The ease is coming, if we come to the building of God. But for a tent to be beaten black with wind and weather, nothing more common.
3. Let us confess we are pilgrims and strangers on earth, and live like those who are quickly to remove. Let us not expect to fix our dwelling here but prepare for our removal. We come into the world to go out again; and within a little our tent shall be removed and our place know us no more.
Lastly, Let us be preparing for a more excellent and abiding mansion. There is a city that is continuing, let us seek after it. A house of God's building, in which there are many mansions, let us be careful to secure our title to it. There is a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us run, as we may obtain that noble prize.
Doctrine III. The earthly house of the tabernacle of our body will be dissolved by death. That is what we look for, and we are provided for it if we have a building with God.
I. Here I shall shew in what respects death is a dissolution.
II. That this body shall be dissolved. I am then
I. To shew in what respects death is a dissolution.
1. Death dissolves the union betwixt soul and body. When it comes, the silver cord that unites the soul and body together is loosed. Eccl. xii. 6. No wonder it dissolve relations betwixt persons, when it dissolves that union. The man is made up of two parts, a soul and a body, united by an invisible bond; death looses the knot, and then the parts fall asunder. The earthly part goes to the earth, and the spiritual part to God that gave it, to be sent to its eternal home.