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When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.—2 Thes. i. 10.
THE apostle now proceedeth to the other part of the righteous judgment of Christ, which concerneth the saints, for whose sake Christ principally and chiefly cometh. His coming is not so terrible to the adversaries as it shall be glorious and comfortable to the saints. In the same day in which he shall punish his adversaries, he will reward the faithful, ‘When he shall come to be glorified in his saints,’ &c.
The comfortable effect of Christ’s coming is—(1.) Asserted; (2.) Applied to the Thessalonians.
If we consider it as asserted, there we have—
1. The state itself.
2. The measure and degree of it, that Christ shall be glorified and admired upon that account.
3. The author, Christ.265
4. The subjects participant—(1.) Saints; (2.) Believers; a double character.
5. The time, ‘In that day.’
Doct. That there is an estate of admirable glory reserved to be bestowed by Christ on the saints at the day of judgment.
This point will be discussed by going over the circumstances of the text.
First, The state itself is a state of glory. There is a twofold glory put upon the saints—(1.) Relative and adherent; (2.) Intrinsic and inherent.
1. The relative glory of the saints standeth in three things—
[1.] In the free and full forgiveness of all our sins, and our absolution pronounced by the judge on the throne, Acts iii. 19. As pardon is of three sorts—(1.) Constitutive, by God’s new covenant: Acts x. 43 ‘To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoso ever believeth on him shall receive remission of sins.’ (2.) Declarative and sentential, when God as a judge doth determine our right. This is done here in part, when God doth speak peace to our souls, either in his word or by his Spirit: Isa. lvii. 19, ‘I create the fruit of the lips, Peace, peace,’ But more fully at the last day, and solemnly, when the judge pro tribunali, sitting upon the throne, shall pronounce and declare us pardoned and absolved, and accepted unto life before all the world. (3.) Executively, when he doth not inflict the deserved penalty, but give us glory and happiness; this is in part done here, as God taketh off the penalties and fruits of sin in his internal government, giving us the Holy Spirit; for this he giveth as the God of peace, as pacified to us in Christ, Heb. xiii. 20, 21, by his external government taking off the punishment which lieth upon us for sin, therefore acquitted and pardoned. But more fully at the last day, when we are endued with glorious qualities both in soul and body, and all the fruits of sin, even those that lie upon the body, cease. Then is the sentence of absolution solemnly pronounced, then is the full execution, as we are perfectly freed from all misery, and brought into the possession of all happiness.
[2.] A participation of judicial power. The saints are not only judged, but judges: 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3, ‘Do not ye know that the saints shall judge the world?’ And again, ‘Know ye not that we shall judge angels?’ Per modum suffragii, as assessors on the bench with Christ. Though some of the wicked long ago had their punishment, and all the evil spirits were cast out of God’s presence; but then they shall have their solemn doom, the saints consenting in the judgment, and visibly associated with Christ in the judgment: Luke xxii. 30, ‘Ye shall sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ And therefore it is said, Ps. xlix. 14, ‘The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;’ that is, in the morning of the resurrection, when we awake out of the sleep of death; and they have dominion as they are appointed to assist Christ in judicature; they shall have power over them who slighted, reviled, persecuted them. Here some of the saints judge the world by doctrine, all by conversation: Heb. xi. 7, ‘By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world.’ 266There by vote and suffrage, the more to convince wicked and ungodly men.
[3.] Christ’s public owning them before God and his angels, by head and poll, man by man: Luke xii. 8, ‘Him shall the Son of man confess before the angels of God,’ that is, own them in the judgment. This is one for whom I died, who hath been faithful to me, and glorified me upon earth; this presentation of the elect to God was a thing much upon the heart of Christ: Col. i. 22, ‘To present you holy and unblamable,’ &c.; Jude 24, ‘To him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory;’ and Eph. v. 27, ‘That he might present it to himself a glorious church.’ There is a threefold presentation spoken of in scripture. One made by believers themselves: Rom. i. 12, ‘I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present yourselves a living sacrifice;’ Rom. vi. 13, ‘Yield yourselves unto God.’ παραστήσατε ἑαυτοὺς τῷ Θεῷ. When we solemnly give up ourselves to God’s use and service. The second by Christ’s messengers: 2 Cor. xi. 3, ‘That I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.’ When we can set such before the Lord, as the fruit of our labours, and pledges of our faithfulness in his work; Lord, these and these have I gained to thee, or at least built them up in the knowledge of Christ. The last is by Christ himself, as an account of his charge: Heb. ii. 13, ‘Behold I and the children which thou hast given me.’ That he hath justified, sanctified, and now brought them home to God. When all the elect are gathered into one company and society, he will thus present them to God, and go before them as the great shepherd of the sheep, to lead them into their everlasting fold, rejoicing in his own success, and settle them in their eternal and glorious estate. This is done privately at the time of death, but publicly and solemnly at the day of his coming, when he shall give up the kingdom to his Father, 1 Cor. xv. 24, tanquam prαedam hostibus ereptam, as a prey snatched from the enemy, as having made good his undertaking; which is a great engagement on believers to holiness, that Christ may own us, and present us to God with honour.
2. The glory inherent and internal: Rom. viii. 18, ‘The glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Now it is revealed to us, our ear hath heard a little thereof, but then it shall be revealed in us, fully accomplished in our persons; as here there is a revealing of Christ to us, which implieth the offer, and a revealing of Christ in us, which implieth the participation: Gal. i. 16, ‘It pleased God to reveal his Son in me.’
But let us see a little how this glory is revealed in us. (1.) In our bodies; (2.) In our souls.
[1.] In our bodies. There is a great deal of glory put upon the bodies of the saints; and this is of principal regard in that day, because our souls are made perfect before, and the apostle speaketh of what is visible and conspicuous. There is no place for our earthly and corruptible bodies in the heavenly city: ‘For flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,’ 1 Cor. xv. 51; that is, corruptible and earthly, as now it is, it cannot enter into heaven; therefore Christ’s great work is to change the body, we shall have glorious bodies like unto his glorious body.267
(1.) It shall be immortal and incorruptible: 1 Cor. xv. 42, ‘It is gown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.’ Christ will endue them with immortality and impassibility, that they shall never decay nor be liable to sickness, weakness, or any defects, but have all the perfections which a body is capable of.
(2.) For clarity and brightness, it shall be like Christ’s glorious body. Therefore it is said, 1 Cor. xv. 43, ‘It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory.’ Christ’s body shineth with light and brightness, a glimpse whereof was given in Christ’s transfiguration: Mat. xvii. 2, ‘His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was bright as the light.’ When he appeared to Paul from heaven, his body was wonderfully glorious; he could not endure the light which shined to him, Acts ix. So when the saints shall appear with him in glory, the righteous shall shine as the sun in the firmament, Mat. xiii. 43.
(3.) It shall be a spiritual body: 1 Cor. xv. 44, ‘It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.’ But how is it a spiritual body? The least in it is, that it shall be subject to the spirit; as the soul while it is subject to the. flesh is called carnal, so the body when it is subject to the spirit is termed spiritual: John iii. 6, ‘That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ Then the new birth produceth its consummate effect, it is all spirit, without any mixture of the rebelling flesh. Certainly as regeneration is called the first resurrection, it helpeth ns to conceive of this estate; but there is more in it; the body is spiritual not only because it is ad nutum spiritus, at the command of the spirit, but ad modum spiritus, after the manner of the spirit; it standeth in no need of natural supports. There is no food nor repast, no marrying nor giving in marriage, Mat. xxii. 30, but they are as the angels of God in heaven; they live not as husbands and wives, but as the pure and spiritual angels; we shall not stand in need of meat and drink and sleep, as now we do. Now what a blessed thing is it to have either privilege, to have bodies wholly subject to the spirit, and bodies not liable to present necessities; once more, not clogged with a mass of flesh, but possibly may ascend or descend, pass from place to place in a moment! As the angels move up and down in the twinkling of an eye, or as the helm turneth the ship, so is the body turned instantly at every motion of the soul.
[2.] The soul is fully satisfied, and filled up with God. We have a more complete knowledge of him, and exact conformity to him: 1 John iii. 2, ‘We shall see him as he is, and be like him.’ But this is riot of this place, and was spoken of in another verse.
Secondly, The measure of that glory which he shall impart. It shall be so great, that it is said—(1.) ‘Christ shall be glorified in his saints;’ (2.) ‘Admired in them that believe.’ Both expressions show the greatness of this glory.
For the first, ‘He shall come to be glorified in the saints.’ The apostle doth not say that the saints shall be glorified, which yet is said in other scriptures, Rom. viii. 17; that were less though it be much; but he saith Christ shall be glorified in that day. Again, he doth not say Christ shall be glorified in himself, which is also said elsewhere; as 1 Peter iv. 13, ‘That when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy.’ But Christ is glorified in the saints, in the 268 glory which he communicates to his people; he is glorified in the glory which resulteth to him from their glory. And this expression showeth both—(1.) The certainty of this effect of his coming; for it is more than if he had said they shall be glorified. Surely Christ will not be wanting to his own glory, and therefore he cannot be wanting to the salvation of his people; he will not forget those things which make for his own honour, and the honour of his Father. If his glory be concerned in our glorification, we may be the more confident of it. (2.) The greatness is seen also in this expression; for how is Christ glorified in the saints? Christ may be glorified two ways—(1.) Passively and objectively; (2.) Actively, as he is lauded and praised in the saints; or in other terms, he is glorified in them and by them. The first is most proper here; for it is said, ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints.’
[1.] Objectively. God is glorified by impression. So all his creatures glorify him; that is, offer matter to set forth his glory: Ps. cxlv. 10, ‘All thy works praise thee, all thy saints bless thee.’ In this lower world, man is the mouth of the creation, they ascribe and give God the glory of his excellencies; but all creatures yield the matter of God’s praise, they are the harp well stringed and tuned, though man maketh the music; and above all, new creatures: Eph. i. 12, ‘That we should be to the praise of his glory;’ not speak, but be. There is more of God seen in the new creature than there is in anything on this side heaven. The very work of the new creation sets forth his goodness, wisdom, and power, to all attentive beholders; though the believer should be silent, the work would speak for itself; but especially now, when his work is perfect and brought to an issue, and Christ hath put to his last hand, and done all to and for believers which he means to do.
[2.] Actively, by expression or ascription of praise. So it is said, Ps. 1. 23, ‘Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me;’ that is, it is an eminent means of glorifying God when we take notice of his excellencies, have a due apprehension of them, and delight ourselves in the commemoration of his benefits. Believers are now bound to it, for therefore they were called out of darkness into his marvellous light, that they might show forth his praises, 1 Peter ii. 9, τὰς ἀρετᾶς, objectively and actively. His goodness, power, and wisdom in their conversion; much more then Christ’s great power in raising them from the dead, Eph. i. 19. His wisdom in conducting and guiding his people to this happiness, notwithstanding their own weakness, and the opposition of their adversaries, and the cross events by the way: Eph. i. 7, ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;’ ‘Then shall I know as also I am known,’ 1 Cor. xiii. 12. His goodness in pardoning all their sins, and giving them the glorious effect of his promises, and in rewarding his people, otherwise unworthy of so great a reward: 1 Peter i. 13, ‘Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,’ Then is grace seen in all its graciousness.
Second expression, that ‘Christ will be admired in those that believe.’ We admire at those things which exceed knowledge and expectation, at great things never seen before, nor could the heart of 269man conceive they should ever be brought to pass. Now that glory shall exceed all our hope and expectation.
But who are the parties that shall wonder?
They are either—(1.) The good angels; or, (2.) The wicked; (3.) The saints themselves. The good angels shall praise God for this wonderful discovery of his grace. The wicked shall stand wondering at this great change, the saints themselves shall be ravished at the sense and thought of it.
1. The good angels. Though they are but the spectators, not the parties interested, yet they are marvellously affected with the excellency of this grace and salvation which is brought to sinners by Jesus Christ: 1 Peter i. 12, ‘Which things the angels desire to pry into.’ They wonder at these things now, and know more of the manifold wisdom of God in his dispensations to the church than otherwise they could have known, Eph. iii. 10. They see more of God in this than in any of his other works. In the state of the church upon earth, God discovers much of his wisdom, power, and goodness to the angels, much more in the final glorious estate of the saints; therefore Christ speaketh of confessing and owning his people before the angels, for they look after these things: Rev. iii. 5, ‘I will confess his name before my Father and his angels.’ Now when Christ employeth their ministry in gathering his saints together, they shall stand wondering at the glory which he putteth upon them, they shall stand wondering what he means to do with creatures that are but newly crept out of dust and rottenness.
2. The wicked are amazed and astonished when they see those so much loved and advanced by Christ, whose lives they counted madness and folly. They shall be spectators of the blessedness of the godly, as the godly shall be of their destruction and punishment; they shall see them whom they accounted the off-scouring of all things, shining as the stars in the firmament. The church complaineth, Lam. iii. 45, ‘Thou hast made us as the off-scouring and refuse in the midst of the people.’ You will say, They were a sinful nation that had revolted from God; but you shall see Christ’s choicest servants fared alike: 2 Cor. iv. 13, ‘We are counted as the scurf and off-scouring of all things,’ as the sweepings of the city. Now God’s people, that are so odious in this world, are highly esteemed there; Christ receiveth them as the dearly beloved of his soul, and that in the sight of the wicked; for the sentence of absolution goeth before the judgment of condemnation, the sentence beginneth with the godly, but the execution with the wicked: Mat. xxv. 41, ‘Then shall he say to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.’
3. The saints themselves are filled with wonder, they finding their expectation so much exceeded; for admiration is the overplus of expectation. The saints know most of God and his grace, yet they shall then admire him, for prophecy is but in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 9. There is no tongue now to speak of these things, nor ear to hear them; even in what is revealed, the saints find many astonishing instances of God’s love; all is wonderful in the Redeemer’s grace: 1 Peter ii. 9, ‘That we should show forth the praise of him that hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ Whether we consider the woful condition we were in before, the rich grace that hath recovered us, the 270blessed privileges we are called unto, it is all matter of wonder, and passeth the power of created understandings to apprehend, or our tongues to express. They wonder at their own happiness now, but then they shall admire Christ more than ever they have done; our wonder now is but slender to our wonder then.
Thirdly, The author, Christ. How he is concerned in this; for it is not said, the saints shall be glorified, but he shall be glorified and admired. Our glory, as it cometh from Christ, redoundeth to him: ‘For of him, and through him, and to him are all things, to whom be glory for ever, amen,’ Rom. xi. 36.
1. He is the procurer of this glorious estate for us by his death and sufferings. It is not, that I remember, expressly said that Christ hath purchased glory for us, but it is in effect said, for he purchased us unto glory; therefore the church is called the purchased possession; Eph. i. 14, ‘Until the redemption of the purchased possession;’ that is, until the church come to its final deliverance. So that we have the full effect of his death at the day of judgment, at which time those who are purchased by the blood of Christ, and are his possession and peculiar people, shall obtain full deliverance from sin and misery. He hath bought us with a price, and purchased us to this end, that he might possess us. And we have our full redemption, when our bodies are raised up and glorified, Rom. viii. 13. What though the death of Christ had a nearer end, our reconciliation with God, and the expiation of our sins, yet this glorified estate is also thence inferred: Rom. v. 10, ‘For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.’ No wise agent would lay so broad a foundation unless he intended an answerable superstructure. Would the Son of God die for a sinful world, if he did not mean to make them everlastingly happy? Besides it is said, he gave himself for us, to cleanse us, yea, and to present us to himself, &c., Eph. v. 27. That is the second end of Christ’s giving himself for his church, that he might present it to himself a glorious church. He gave himself, not only to sanctify his people, but to glorify them. Heaven is not merited by our holiness, but purchased by Christ; it is the fruit of the blood and love of the Son of God.
2. He has promised it in his gracious covenant: 1 John ii. 25, ‘This is the promise that he hath promised us, eternal life.’ Other things are promised, but this is the chief promise; he hath promised to justify his people, that he may take away that which hindereth their access to God, to sanctify his people, that he may fit them for communion with God, and begin the life which is perfected in heaven, and to glorify them as the consummation of all. Other promises are but steps to this, other promises are now accomplished within time, this is the promise most doubted of, and less liable to sense; therefore now Christ will be glorified and admired in his faithfulness to his people. The promise longest delayed will come; we must shoot the gulf of death; stay till the end of all things, till we have the full of it.
3. He dispenseth it, and communicateth his glory to the saints. He is our husband, we are his spouse. Uxor fulget radiis mariti; as the husband riseth in honour, so doth the wife. He is the head, we are the members; when the head is crowned, all the members are clothed with 271honour and garments of state. There must be a proportion; his mystical body shareth with him in his glory; he is the captain, we are his soldiers: Heb. ii. 10, ‘The captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings, to bring many sons unto glory.’ When David was crowned at Hebron, he made his followers captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, and captains of fifties. Servants: John xii. 26, ‘My servants shall be where I am.’ He will put marks of honour and favour upon all his servants; they often meet with disgrace here; here they suffered, sighed with him, now they shall be glorified with him.
4. He is the pattern and sampler of it. In all things Christ must πρωτεῦειν, he must have the pre-eminence, Rom. viii. 29. We have all our blessings at second-hand. First Christ is manifested to the world, and then the saints: Col. iii. 4, ‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ His glorious body is the pattern to which ours is likened: Phil. iii. 21, ‘Who shall change our vile bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,’ and to a conformity to him in all things: 1 John iii. 2, ‘When he shall appear, we shall be like him.’ Now in all these respects Christ is concerned in our glory; we have it from him, by him, and according to his pattern.
Fourthly, The subjects, ‘In his saints,’ and ‘in all that believe.’ Where mark—
1. The connection between these two characters, saints and believers; and it implieth that those that by the belief of the gospel do separate themselves from the world, and consecrate themselves to God, or that do believe so as to become saints, shall be thus glorified. The true faith is of a sanctifying nature: Acts xv. 9, ‘Purifying their hearts by faith;’ and Acts xxvi. 18, ‘Sanctified by the faith which is in Christ Jesus.’ In the gospel there is represented to us a holy God, whom we should imitate: 1 Peter i. 15, ‘As he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy.’ A holy Saviour, whose main work and blessing is to turn us from sin, Acts iii. 26, and Mat. i. 21. A Holy Spirit, who sanctifieth us unto God, that we may become a peculiar people to him, 1 Cor. vi. 11, Titus ii. 14, Eph. i. 13; a holy rule to walk by, Phil. ii. 14, 15; a holy hope to aim at, 1 John iii. 3; and a blessedness to be possessed by the holy, Heb. xii. 14, and Mat. v. 8. Now if there be a sound belief of these things, it will not be a naked belief, but operate unto holiness. Certainly all true believers will be saints, and live holily.
2. This glory and blessedness is limited to saints and believers, as their peculiar and proper portion. For believers, John iii. 15, ‘That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ For saints, many places, Col. iii. 12. Heaven is the inheritance of those only who are saints: Acts xx. 32, ‘I commend you to God, who is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all those which are sanctified;’ Acts xxvi. 18, ‘That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them which are sanctified.’ It concerneth us to see that we be believers and saints. The apostle showeth this was the reason of applying this consolation to them; namely, as they had believed, and improved the gospel unto obedience.272
Who are sound believers, I shall show hereafter, now only what it is to be saints. Holiness is sometimes in scripture relatively considered, sometimes positively. Relatively, that thing or person is holy which is separated and set apart from a common to a holy use. Positively, it implieth the renovation of our natures. As holiness is considered with respect to our relation to God, there are four things in it—
[1.] An inclination towards God; for grace puts a new bias upon the soul, by which it bendeth and tendeth towards God, whereas before it bended and tended towards carnal vanities; therefore it is expressed by conversion, or a turning from the creature to God, Isa. xxvi. 18, 19.
[2.] From this tendency ariseth a dedication of ourselves, and all that we have, to the Lord’s use and service: 2 Cor. viii. 5, ‘But first gave their own selves to the Lord;’ Rom. vi. 13, ‘Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead;’ Rom. xii. 1, ‘Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.’ They are ashamed God hath been so long kept out of his right.
[3.] From this dedication there results a relation to God. So that from that time forth they are not their own, but the Lord’s: Ezek. xvi. 8, ‘I entered into covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine;’ Rom. xiv. 7, 8, ‘None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself: for whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord’s.’ In the text, ‘glorified in his saints,’ because of his right in them; and they devote themselves to him.
[4.] An actual using ourselves for God; for we are vessels set apart for the master’s use, 2 Tim. ii. 21; and accordingly we must live, not to ourselves, but unto God. If we love God, and have any sense of his kindness to us in Christ, we will do so, and shall need no other bond to bind this upon us but our own love: 2 Cor. v. 15, ‘That we who live should not live to ourselves, but to him that died for us/ ‘Besides, a sincere christian maketh conscience of his dedication: 1 Cor. vi. 15, ‘Your bodies are the members of Christ; shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.’ Many give up themselves to God, but in the use of themselves there appeareth no such matter. Besides, from the relation and interest God hath in us: ‘Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ So 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20, ‘Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are his.’ We must make conscience of alienating what is God’s. Lastly, it is bound upon us by the certainty of the future account, Luke xix. 23; therefore we should keep a constant and faithful reckoning how we lay out ourselves for God.
2. Positively. Holiness is the renewing of our hearts by the Spirit, or an inward principle of sanctification wrought m us. Other things, when dedicated to God, are changed only in their use, but man is changed in his nature; there is a difference between him and others, as he is set apart for God and dedicated to an holy use: Ps. iv. 3, ‘The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.’ But there is a difference between them and themselves, as they are cleansed, purified, and renewed by the Holy Ghost: 1 Cor. vi. 11, ‘Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, 273in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.’ A man must be holy before his actions can be holy; they are the saints in whom Christ will be glorified.
3. Though it be limited to saints (all of that number are comprised), yet there is a great deal of difference between the saints of God. Some are more eminent in grace, others weak and dark; and there is a difference between them at the last day; some are raised, others that are alive are changed; but they all agree in this, that Christ will be glorified in all; there is not one single believer in whom Christ will not be admired; even in the glory that he puts upon the meanest and weakest, it shall be enough to raise the wonder of angels; whether it be a prophet’s reward, or a righteous man’s reward, or an ordinary disciple’s reward, whether bond or free, all is one, Christ will crown his grace in him; for the apostle saith, ‘He shall be admired in all that believe.’
Fifthly, The season, ‘In that day.’ For this public honour and glory we must tarry till the time fixed; we shall have most of his favour when Christ and we meet; and it is not fit the adopted children should have their glory till the Son of God by nature be publicly manifested to the world. His personal honour lieth hid, and is much under a veil; all things come to their perfection by degrees; there is no congruity between the present state and this blessedness—(1.) The place is not fit; (2.) The persons are not fit; (3.) The time is not fit.
1. The place is not fit for a perpetual state of blessedness, because it is full of changes. Here time and chance happeneth unto all things, and there is a continual vicissitude of summer and winter, night and day, calm and tempest. The world to come is either all evil or all good, here is neither all evil nor all good; this is a fit place for our exercise and trial, not for our enjoyment. Here is the patience of the saints, but hereafter is the reward of the saints; it is a fit place wherein to get a right and interest, but not to get possession; it is God’s foot stool, but not his throne, Isa. lxvi. 1. He will not immediately show himself to us till we come before the throne of his glory. He filleth the upper part of the world with his glorious presence, the lower with his powerful presence. This is a place where he will show his bounty to all his creatures, a common inn and receptacle for sons and bastards, a place given to the children of men, Ps. cxv. 16; but the heaven of heavens is reserved for himself and his people.
2. The persons are not fit. Our souls are not yet purified enough to see God: Mat. v. 8, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;’ 1 John iii. 3, ‘Every man that hath this hope, purifieth himself as he is pure.’ Till sin be wholly done away, which will not be till death, we are not meet for his presence. When Christ will present us to God, he will present us faultless, Jude 25. Our bodies also are not fit till we have passed the gulf of death, and all of Adam be left buried in the grave. Old bottles cannot bear this new wine. A natural creature is not capable of the glorious presence of God, and cannot endure the splendour of it: Mat. xvii. 16, ‘They fell on their faces, and were sore afraid.’ Upon any manifestation of God the saints hid themselves, as Elijah wrapt his face in a mantle. Moses trembled exceedingly when God gave the law.
3. The time is not fit. We must be some time upon our trial before 274we enter upon our final estate. God governeth now not in a way of sense, but faith; we are justified by faith, live by faith, walk by faith, not by sight. Now the state of faith requireth that God’s manner of dispensation should neither be too sensible and clear, nor too obscure and dark. It is fit Christ should be admired now in the graces, but then only in the glory of his people: 1 Peter iv. 4, ‘Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.’ Room must be left for trial: James i 12, ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.’ Room for faith and patience: Heb. vi. 12, ‘That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises.’
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