Imatges de pÓgina
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had annexed to it, though of it's own nature otherwise corruptible ; and though it did not subject that immortal part, the soul, to corruption or annihilation, yet as it stood in relation to the body, and as the body and soul made but one man, so it subjected the man to a dissolution; a separation of those two parts which did constitute him one reasonable creature. The body became subject to corruption, not annihilation; the soul to the curse, not to corruption; and the body and soul, as constituting one man, to death or dissolution. So then, death separating these two constitutive parts of man, his body and his soul, we will consider how after death the state of either stands, as to such as are truly united to Christ Jesus, and to God by Him.

From the Scriptures of God we learn, that from the instant of death until the resurrection, there is a state of a separated soul, and that it hath an abiding being and subsistence, notwithstanding such separation ; and this will most clearly appear by what follows.

The great hindrance to the thorough and perfect sanctification of the soul in this life, is principally by the adherence of the body unto it; and consequently of those lusts and passions that accompany the body. But by death the impediment is removed; the counter-motion of the flesh abolished;

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the opportunity of temptation by it is taken away and in the instant of dissolution the whole leaven of natural corruption is cleansed out of the soul; and “ he that is thus dead, is freed from sin." Rom. vi. 7. The day of death is, as it were, the birth-day of the soul; when it falls off as a seed that is ripe, and drops into a place of rest; and there it spends, as it were, it's infancy, till it be ready for the consummation of it's happiness in the resurrection.

The soul, immediately upon her separation from the body, is translated into a place of rest, and enjoys a condition free from all trouble, sorrow, and misery. Rev. xiv. 13. “ They rest from their labours, and their works follow them."

But the soul doth not only enjoy a negative happiness, an absence of all misery, but in the very instant of it's dissolution is translated to a condition of blessedness commensurate to the capacity of the soul, and enjoys the vision of Christ in glory, in a place of glory and happiness. St. Luke xyii. 24. " Lazarus' soul was carried into Abraham's bosom,” and there did rest before the last judgment; for the rich man's brethren were then upon the earth ; which, though it be a parable, yet it imports the blessed state of a separate soul, even before the last judgment. And that this is so, our Saviour's words upon the cross to the crucified thief import,

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St. Luke xxiii. 43. “Verily I say unto thee, to

. " day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Wherein we have the time—“ To-day," before the resurrection ; secondly, the place, “ In Paradise;" which is the very place of the Blessed. That which in 2 Cor. xii. 2. is called the “ third heaven," in ver. 4. is called “ Paradise.” Thirdly, the presence,“ With me, in Paradise,” where the glorious soul of Christ was. 2 Cor. v. 8. “ We are confident, and willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Parallel to which is Philip. i. 23. “Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better." There is not a mean instant between the departure from the body and the local presence with Christ; and certainly the soul, enjoying the presence of Christ, cannot want the fulness of happiness. The soul must needs receive a continual irradiation from his glory; a continual stream of comfort and delight must needs flow into the soul from his presence; the clear manifestation of his love and favour. But yet according to the measure of the capacity of the soul to receive, must needs be the measure of what it receives. And, therefore, doubtless as the soul, in a state of separation, cannot have the same measure of perfection as it shall have in it's re-union in the resurrection, so consequently it cannot receive the like measure of blessedness as it

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then shall receive. Though the blessedness be the same in kind, and the same in measure, yet the soul hath not the same capacity to receive it as when it is re-united perfectly to a perfect body, by which the soul will be enabled to act more perfectly than it did or could in a state of separation. The soul receives a fulness of comfort and rest and blessedness in the presence of Christ, according to the utmost capacity that it hath; but as her capacity and the excellence of her operation shall be improved in the resurrection, so shall the measure of her happiness. The fulness and perfection of her fruition is reserved till then. 6. Our life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory." Col. iii. 3. " Now we are the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like unto Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John iii. 2.

The perfect vision of Christ is referred till his last appearance; and consequently the perfect measure of our glory and blessedness. The reception of that glory into the soul, is that which doth in a manner transform the soul into the same glory; and, according to the measure of that reception, so is the measure of that transformation. Here, in this life, our vision of it is, as it were, in

a glass, and therefore our conformity unto it is the less and more imperfect. In the state of the separation of the soul more is seen, and therefore the soul more irradiated; but in the re-union of the soul and body, the state of the soul is more perfect, and the vision therefore more perfect, and consequently the glory of the soul and body more perfect. Then we shall behold with open face, not in a glass as here, the glory of the Lord; and so shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord : “ We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” The seeing Christ as He is, is that which imprints a glory upon the soul, as the sight of God in the Mount imprinted a brightness on Moses' face; and the more perfectly we see Him, the greater is our conformity to Him; the more we receive of Him, the more likeness we receive unto Him.

In the state of separation the soul receives a clearer vision of Christ, than whilst she was in the flesh, but not so full a vision as she shall in the resurrection. And therefore those blessed souls mentioned in Rev. vi. 9. are said to be under the altar. So that though they had white robes given unto them, yet they were, as it were, in the court of the temple, though in a state of nearness unto Christ, a state of blessedness commensurate to the capacity of the soul, yet not so fully and completely

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