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that extraordinary majesty of Stephen's face, seemed to be an earnest of his glory. "All that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." How then, if it shone so gloriously even on earth, will it shine in the other world, when his, and the bodies of all the saints, are made like unto Christ's glorious body! How glorious the body of Christ is, we may guess from his transfiguration. St. Peter, when he saw this, when our Lord's face shone as the sun, and his raiment became shining and white as snow, was so transported with joy and admiration, that he knew not what he said. When our Saviour discovered but a little of that glory which he now possesses, and which in du time he will impart his followers, yet that little of it made the place seem a paradise; and the disciples thought, that they could wish for nothing better than always to live in such pure light, and enjoy so beautiful a sight. "It is good for us to be
here let us make three tabernacles." Here let us fix our abode for ever. And if they thought it so happy only to be present with such heavenly bodies, and to behold them with their eyes, how much happier must it be to dwell in such glorious mansions, and to be themselves clothed with so much brightness!
This excellency of our heavenly bodies, will probably arise in a great measure from the happiness of our souls. The unspeakable joy that we then shall feel, will break through our bodies, and shine forth in our countenances. As the joy of the soul, even in this life, has some influence upon the countenance, by rendering it more open and cheerful: so Solomon tells us, "A man's wisdom makes his face to shine." Virtue, as it refines a man's heart, so it makes his very looks more cheerful and lively.
3. Our bodies shall be raised in power. This expresses the sprightliness of our heavenly bodies, the nimbleness of their motion, by which they shall be obedient and able instruments of the soul. In this state our bodies are no better than clogs and fetters, which confine and restrain the freedom of the soul. The corruptible body presses down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weighs down the mind. Our dull, sluggish, inactive bodies, are often unable, or backward, to obey the commands of the soul. But in the other life," they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Or, as another expresses it, "they shall run to and fro like sparks among the stubble." The speed of their motion, shall be like that of devouring fire in stubble, and the height of it above the towering of an eagle; for they shall meet the Lord in the air, when he comes to judgment, and mount up with him into the highest heaven. This earthly body is slow and heavy in all its motions, listless and soon tired with action. But our heavenly bodies shall be as fire; as active and as nimble as our thoughts are.
4. Our bodies shall be raised spiritual bodies. Our spirits are now forced to serve our bodies, and to attend their leisure, and do greatly depend upon them for most of their actions. But our bodies shall then wholly serve our spirits, and minister to them, and depend upon them. So that, as by a natural body, we understand one fitted for this lower, sensible world, for this earthly state; so a spiritual body is one that is suited to a spiritual state, to an invisible world, to the life of angels. And, indeed,
this is the principal uifference between a mortal and a glorified body. This flesh is the most dangerous enemy we have: we therefore deny and renounce it in our baptism. It constantly tempts us to evil. Every sense is a snare to us. All its lusts and appetites are inordinate. It is ungovernable, and often rebels against reason. The law in our members wars against the law of our mind. When the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak; so that the best of men are forced to keep it under, and use it hardly, lest it should betray them into folly and misery. And how does it hinder us in all our devotions! How soon does it jade our minds when employed on holy things! How easily by its enchanting pleasures, does it divert them from those noble exercises! But when we have obtained the resurrection unto life, our bodies will be spiritualized, purified, and refined from their earthly grossness; then they will be fit instruments for the soul in all its divine and heavenly employment; we shall not be weary of singing praises to God through infinite ages.
Thus after what little we have been able to conceive of it, it sufficiently appears that a glorified body is infinitely more excellent and desirable than this vile body. The only thing that remains is,
III. To draw some inferences from the whole. And first, From what has been said, we may learn the best way of preparing ourselves to live in those heavenly bodies, which is by cleansing ourselves more and more from all earthly affections, and weaning ourselves from this body and all the pleasures that are peculiar to it. We should begin in this life, to loosen the knot between our souls and this mortal flesh: to refine our affections, and raise them from things below to things above: to take off our thoughts and disengage them from present and sensible things, and accustom ourselves to think of, and converse with, things future and invisible; that so our souls, when they leave this earthly body, may be prepared for a spiritual one, as having beforehand tasted spiritual delights, and being in some degree acquainted with the things which we then shall meet with. A soul wholly taken up with this earthly body is not fit for the glorious mansions above. A sensual mind is so wedded to bodily pleasures, that it cannot enjoy itself without them, and it is not able to relish any other, though infinitely to be preferred before them. Nay, such as follow the inclinations of their fleshly appetites, are so far unfit for heavenly joys, that they would esteem it the greatest unhappiness to be clothed with a spiritual body. It would be like clothing a beggar in the robes of a king. Such glorious bodies would be uneasy to them, they would not know what to do in them, they would be glad to retire and put on their rags again. But when we are washed from the guilt of our sins, and cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we shall long to be dissolved, and to be with our exalted Saviour: we shall be always ready to take wing for the other world, where we shall at last have a body suited to our spiritual appetites.
2. From hence we may see how to account for the different degrees of glory in the heavenly world. For although all the children of God shall have glorious bodies, yet the glory of them all shall not be equal. "As one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead." They shall all shine as stars, but those who, by a constant diligence in weil doing, have attained to a higher measure of purity than others, shall shine more bright than others. They shall 33
appear as more glorious stars. It is certain that the most heavenly bodies will be given to the most heavenly souls; so that this is no little encouragement to us to make the greatest progress we possibly can in the knowledge and love of God, since the more we are weaned from the things of the earth now, the more glorious will our bodies be at the resurrection.
3. Let this consideration engage us patiently to bear whatever troubles we may be exercised with in the present life. The time of our eternal redemption draweth nigh. Let us hold out a little longer, and all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, and we shall never sigh nor sorrow any more. And how soon shall we forget all we endured in this earthly tabernacle, when once we are clothed with that house which is from above? We are now but on our journey towards home, and so must expect to struggle with many difficulties; but it will not be long ere we come to our journey's end, and that will make amends for all. We shall then be in a quiet and safe harbour, out of the reach of all storms and dangers. We shall then be at home in our Father's house, no longer exposed to the inconveniences, which, so long as we abide abroad in these tents, we are subject to. And let us not forfeit all this happiness, for want of a little more patience. Only let us hold out to the end, and we shall receive an abundant recompense for all the trouble and uneasiness of our passage, which shall be endless rest and peace.
Let this especially fortify us against the fear of death: it is now disarmed, and can do us no hurt. It divides us indeed froin this body awhile, but it is only that we may receive it again more glorious. As God therefore said once to Jacob, "Fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will go down with thee, and will surely bring thee up again;" so I may say to all who are born of God, Fear not to go down into the grave: lay down your heads in the dust; for God will certainly bring you up again, and that in a much more glorious manner. Only" be ye steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” and then let death prevail over, and pull down, this house of clay; since God hath undertaken to rear it up again, infinitely more beautiful, strong and useful.
SERMON CXXXV.-On Grieving the Holy Spirit.
"Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption," Eph. iv, 30.
THERE can be no point of greater importance to him who knows that it is the Holy Spirit which leads us into all truth and into all holiness, than to consider with what temper of soul we are to entertain his divine presence; so as not either to drive him from us, or to disappoint him of the gracious ends for which his abode with us is designed; which is not the amusement of our understanding, but the conversion and entire sanctification of our hearts and lives.
These words of the apostle contain a most serious and affectionate exhortation to this purpose. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
The title Holy, applied to the Spirit of God, does not only denote that he is holy in his own nature, but that he makes us so that he is the great fountain of holiness to his church; the Spirit from whence flows all the grace and virtue, by which the stains of guilt are cleansed, and we are renewed in all holy dispositions, and again bear the image of our Creator. Great reason, therefore, there was for the apostle to give this solemn charge concerning it, and the highest obligation lies upon us all to consider it with the deepest attention: which, that we may the more effectually do, I shall inquire,
I. In what sense the Spirit of God is said to be grieved at the sins of
II. By what kind of sin he is more especially grieved.
III. I shall endeavour to show the force of the apostle's argument against grieving the Holy Spirit,-By whom we are sealed to the day of redemption.
I. I am, first, to inquire, in what sense the Spirit of God may be said to be grieved with the sins of men. There is not any thing of what we properly call passion in God. But there is something of an infinitely higher kind. Some motions of his will, which are more strong and vigorous than can be conceived by men and although they have not the nature of human passions, yet will answer the ends of them. By grief, therefore, we are to understand, a dispositior in God's will, flowing at once from his boundless love to the persons of men, and his infinite abhorrence of their sins. And in this restrained sense, it is here applied to the Spirit of God, in the words of the apostle.
And the reasons for which it is peculiarly applied to him are, 1st, Because he is more immediately present with us. 2d, Because our sins are so many contempts of this highest expression of his love, and disappoint the Holy Spirit in his last remedy. And, 3d, Because by this ungrateful dealing we provoke him to withdraw from us.
1. We are said to grieve the Holy Spirit by our sins, because of his immediate presence with us. They are more directly committed under his eye, and are, therefore, more highly offensive to him. He is pleased to look upon professing Christians, as more peculiarly separated to his honour : nay, we are so closely united to him, that we are said to be " one spirit with him ;" and, therefore, every sin which we now commit, besides its own proper guilt, carries in it a fresh and infinitely high provocation. "Know ye not your own selves," saith St. Paul, "that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost?" And how are they so, but by his inhabitation and intimate presence with our souls When, therefore, we set up the idols of earthly inclinations in our hearts, (which are properly his altar,) and bow down ourselves to serve those vicious passions, which we ought to sacrifice to his will; this must needs be, in the highest degree, offensive and grievous to him. "For what concord is there between" the Holy Spirit" and Belial? Or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?"
2. We grieve the Holy Spirit by our sins, because they are so many contempts of the highest expression of his love, and dissappoint him in his last remedy, whereby he is pleased to endeavour our recovery. And thus every sin we now commit is done in despite of all his powerful as sistances, in defiance of his reproofs: an ungrateful return for infinite loving kindness
As the Holy Spirit is the immediate minister of God's will upon earth, and transacts all the great affairs of the church of Christ; if while he pours out the riches of his grace upon us, he finds them all unsuccessful, no wonder if he appeals to all the world in the words of the prophet, against our ingratitude: "And now, oh ye men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" These, and many more such, which we meet with in the Holy Scriptures, are the highest expressions of the deepest concern; such as imply the utmost unwillingness to deal severely even with those, whom yet, by all the wise methods of his grace, he could not reform. The Holy Spirit here represents himself as one who would be glad to spare sinners if he could; and therefore we may be sure it is grievous to him that by their sins they will not suffer him.
For men thus to disappoint the Holy Spirit of Love, for that too is his peculiar title, to make him thus wait that he may be gracious, and pay attendance on us through our whole course of folly and vanity, and to stand by, and be a witness of our stubbornness, with the importunate offers of infinite kindness in his hands, is a practice of such a nature, that no gracious mind can bear the thoughts of it. It is an argument of God's unbounded mercy, that he is pleased to express, that he is only grieved at it; that his indignation does not flame out against those who are thus basely ungrateful, and consume them in a moment.
It was such ingratitude as this in the Jews, after numberless experiences of his extraordinary mercies towards them, that made Infinite Love, at last, turn in bitterness to reward them according to their doings, as we find the account given by the prophets in the most affecting and lively manner. And surely, considering the much greater obligations he hath laid on us, who enjoy the highest privileges, we may be sure that our sinful and untoward behaviour will, at last, be as great as the mercies we have abused.
There is no doubt but God observes all the sons of men, and his wrath abides on every worker of iniquity. But it is the unfaithful professor, who has known his pardoning love, that grieves his Holy Spirit ; which implies a peculiar baseness in our sins. A man may be provoked indeed by the wrongs of his enemy, but he is properly grieved by the offences of his friend. And, therefore, besides our other obligations, our very near relation to God, as being his friends, and children, would, if we had a spark of gratitude in our souls, be a powerful, restraint upon us, in preserving us from evil.
3. But if arguments of this kind are not strong enough to keep us from grieving our best friend, the Holy Spirit of God, let us consider, that by this ungrateful conduct, we shall provoke him to withdraw from us.
The truth of this, almost all who have ever tasted of the good gifts of the Holy Spirit, must have experienced. It is to be hoped that we have had, some time or other, so lively a sense of his holy influence upon us, as that when we have been so unhappy as to offend him, we could easily perceive the change in our souls, in that darkness, distress, and despondency, which more especially follow the commission of wilful and presumptuous sins. At those seasons the blessed Spirit retired and