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Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby lie is able even to subdue all things unto himself.—Phil. iii. 21.
IN the context the apostle showeth the different course of living observed by the true and false christians, ‘They mind earthly things,’ but ‘Our conversation is in heaven.’
Now he giveth two reasons of the heavenly life—
1. One is taken from their expectation of Christ’s coming.
2. What he will do at his coming to translate us into the heavenly city and to fit us for it, ‘He shall change our vile bodies.’168
In which words observe two things—
[1.] The glory which Christ will put upon his saints at his coming, ‘Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.’
[2.] The ground of hope, which may facilitate the belief of this blessed condition, ‘According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.’
In the first branch observe—
1. The body is spoken of.
2. The body is represented under its double estate and condition.
[1.] What it is now, ‘A vile body.’
[2.] What it will be then; it shall be ‘fashioned like unto his glorious body.’
3. The nature of this change; it is not substantial, but accidental, imported in the word ‘transform,’ or fashion; it shall be altered, not in substance, but in fashion and qualities; we shall have a body still, an organised body with different members; not only a glorious body, but the same body.
1. The body is spoken of—
[1.] Because the soul is made happy and perfect before: Heb. xii. 23, ‘To the spirits of just men made perfect.’
[2.] Because the great temptation to draw us off from the heavenly life is the love of the body and the interests of the bodily life; either indulgence to things pleasing to the body, or fear of troubles and persecutions. Indulgence to things pleasing; thence we have that caveat, Rom. xiii. 14, ‘Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.’ Nothing doth more extinguish all hopes and apprehensions of the life to come than carnal and sensual pleasures. Therefore, that we might not indulge ourselves in a liberty of enjoying every tempting pleasure of this mortal life, he showeth us what care Christ will take of the body, what glory he will put upon the body. Fear of troubles and persecutions, that may infringe the happiness and interest of the bodily life: Luke xii. 4, 5, ‘Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear; Fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say, Fear him.’
[3.] He speaks rather of the happiness of the body, because this hindereth our glory; for there is no place for our earthly and corruptible bodies in the heavenly city: 1 Cor. xv. 50, ‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.’ Flesh and blood, corruptible and earthly as now it is, cannot enter into heaven; therefore, to remove this doubt or fear, he showeth that Christ shall change this vile body.
2. The body is represented under its double estate, what it is now, and what it will be then. Now its present condition, it is a ‘vile body.’ This is mentioned to show the greatness of the change. However it is now for the present, it shall be in a blessed and glorious estate hereafter; as to its future estate, it shall be a glorious body. Mark the two opposite terms; now it is a body of vileness, then of glory; these are the two opposite states of the body.
3. The nature of the change; it is not a change of the substance, it 169is a body still; but in quality, it is now made like the body of his glory, the body which Christ had after the resurrection, and now hath in heaven, the body of his glory.
Secondly, The ground of hope from the power of Christ, ‘According to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.’ This is added lest any should think this change impossible; it is a thing incredible to flesh and blood. They mocked when he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection, Acts xvii. 32. Of all articles of the christian faith, durius creditur, saith Tertullian, it is most difficultly believed. Therefore the apostle referreth us to the power of God. The power of God is that which faith pitcheth on in the general: Rom. iv. 21, ‘Being fully persuaded, that what he had promised he was also able to perform.’ And in particular, faith is helped and relieved by the consideration of God’s power in the doctrine of the resurrection: Mat. xxii. 29, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.’ And the power exercised herein also is produced to warrant and encourage faith in other difficulties. He believed even God who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Well, then, in this God will show his almighty power, by which he is able to do what he pleaseth; and creatures must not by their vain disputes set limits and bounds to the creator’s power.
Doct. That Jesus Christ at his coming will so change these vile bodies of ours that they shall become glorious bodies, and fit to be placed in the heavenly city.
In discussing this point—
1. I shall consider the state of the body as it is now.
2. What our bodies shall be at Christ’s coming.
3. I shall prove that these same vile bodies which we now carry about do then become glorious bodies.
4. What grounds there are to facilitate our hopes and expectations. I. What the body is now; he calleth it a ‘vile body;’ this must be
a little explained.
1. It is vile in respect of its original; it was made out of the dust of the ground: Gen. iii. 19, ‘Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.’ That curious frame which we see and admire so much, it is but dust well coloured and moulded up into a comely shape. The matter of which it was made was the dust of the earth. All elements meet in mixed bodies, yet in gross and heavy bodies, such as man’s is, earth is predominant. This showeth the wisdom and power of God at first, that he could make such a curious frame of dust. We read in the plagues of Egypt, that the magicians could not bring forth lice out of the dust of the ground, Exod. viii. 17-19; yet God raised from thence such a noble creature as man is. But it doth much more set forth the wisdom, and goodness, and power of God, that this vile body shall at length become a glorious body, and these corruptible and earthly bodies shall be made spiritual and heavenly, and a clod of earth shall shine like the sun for brightness.
2. As to its constitution, when it is at the best it is but a frail tabernacle, and liable to death and corruption. Our ‘foundation is in the dust, and we are crushed before the moth,’ Job iv. 19. The matter that we are made of is not brass, or iron, or stone, or stiff clay, but 170dust, which hath no coherence or consistence, but is easily dissipated and scattered with every puff of wind; so is our dusty tabernacle with every blast of God’s displeasure: Isa. xl. 24, ‘He shall blow upon them, and they shall wither.’ We are poor, weak, and mutable creatures, that easily fail and disappear.
3. It is a vile body in regard of sustentation and support. He bringeth food for them out of the earth: Ps. civ. 14, ‘He bringeth forth grass for the cattle, and green herbs for the service of man.’ Things bred there and nourished there feed us. As the body is framed out of the dust of the earth, so from the earth it is supported. Meat and drink, and such kind of accommodations, continue and repair this house from day to day; we are forced to shoar up a ruinous tabernacle, which is ready continually to drop down upon our heads.
4. It is a vile body in regard of the many miseries to which it is obnoxious: Job xiv. 1, ‘Man, that is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble.’ Life is but short, but long enough to lay us open to many calamities. There are some common miseries which are incident to all mankind during the bodily estate, but the godly are often exposed to a vilified, persecuted, and calamitous estate: John xv. 19, ‘Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.’
5. It is a vile body, because it is subject to many diseases, aches, and pains. Job and Lazarus had their sores; all have their infirmities to keep them humble. Paul’s thorn in the flesh: 2 Cor. xii. 7, 9, ‘And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. Therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’
6. It is a vile body, because it is not only the soul44 Qu. ‘seat’?—ED. of diseases, but often made the instrument of sin. We are bidden to keep our ‘vessel in sanctification and honour,’ 1 Thes. iv. 4, meaning our body; but how many use it only for a channel for lusts to run in, or a strainer for meats and drinks to pass through, oppress nature, and make the body more vile by their brutish lusts and affections?
7. It is vile in death. The body that was dust in its composition will shortly be dust in its dissolution: Eccles. xii. 7, ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return to God that gave it;’ that is, be resolved into the matter of which it was once made. It is said of a prince, Ps. cxlvi. 4, ‘His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.’ The greatest potentates in the world are of kin to the dust of the ground, and at length are gathered to the earth from whence they had their beginning.
8. More vile after death. When the soul, the inhabitant, is gone, when it becometh a breathless trunk, it must be removed out of sight; it must be buried in some little pit and hole of the earth, where it may be hidden, to keep others from being offended or infected with its rottenness, stench, and putrefaction: ‘That I may bury my dead out of my sight,’ saith Abraham concerning his beloved Sarah, Gen. xxiii. 4. The presence of our bodies then is noisome to our dearest friends that most loved us.171
This should be often thought of by us—
[1.] To humble us who are but dust and ashes as to our composition, constitution, and dissolution: Gen. xviii. 27, ‘Who am I, that am but dust and ashes, that I should speak unto the Lord?’ ‘All the nations are but as the dust of the balance unto God,’ Isa. xl. 15. What should we be proud of? should we glory in the nobility of our birth? We are made out of the dust of the earth as the worms are; yea, the worms are of the elder house, for every creeping thing was made before man. Of our beauty and strength? Prov. xxxi. 30, ‘Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain.’ That part we glory in is but dust, and will be dust. Or in pomp of living? ‘High and low shall lie down in the dust alike, and the worms shall cover them,’ Job xxi. 26. All of us have bodies subject to the necessities of nature, to the infirmities of nature, to the decays of nature, to the diseases of nature, which will at length totally prevail over us.
[2.] If our bodies are vile bodies, let us not seek the present good of the body as our chief happiness. If anything keep us from heaven, it is the love of the body, which should rather invite us thither, for hereafter our bodies shall be in their best estate. But alas! most men spend their time in caring for the body, to gratify it with daintiness in feeding, costliness in clothing; all the business of their life is to cherish, deck, and adorn proud rottenness. Now in a body over-cared for usually there dwelleth a neglected soul. This is to adorn the house and slight the inhabitant, to embroider the sheath and let the sword rust, to pamper the mortal body and quite neglect the immortal spirit.
[3.] To comfort those that are decaying more and more as to the bodily life, who are subject to continual pains and diseases, or, as Gaius, have a healthy soul in a sick and crazy body, 3 John 2. Why, here it will be a vile body; it cannot be helped. Beauty will be wrinkled with age, and strength fail and be invaded by diseases. The eternal spring and vigour of youth we look for in the other world.
II. The future condition of our bodies: ‘We shall have glorious bodies, like unto his glorious body.’ Here let us a little consider what glory Christ will put upon the body, and how Christ will qualify it and fit it for eternal life.
1. It shall be immortal and incorruptible: 1 Cor. xv. 42, ‘It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.’ Christ will adorn them with immortality and impassibility, that we never may decay, nor be liable to sickness, weakness, and troubles, nor any defects, but endowed with all the perfections 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 shines with light and brightness, a glimpse whereof we had in the transfiguration: Mat. xvii. 3, ‘And he was transfigured before them, and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light;’ and Christ in Rev. i. is represented as the sun in its full strength. His body is wondrous, glorious, now in heaven. When he appeared to Paul, he could not endure the light that shined to him, Acts ix. Oh, what a glorious time will it be when the body of Christ shall appear, and all the saints with him in glory!
3. It shall be a spiritual body: 1 Cor. xv. 44, ‘It is sown a 172natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.’ Now how is it a spiritual body?
[1.] 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 while subject to the spirit is termed spiritual; it is the full consummation of the new birth: John iii. 6, ‘That which is born of the Spirit is spirit! All is spirit then without any mixture of the rebelling flesh. Certainly the infusion of the life of grace is called ‘the first resurrection,’ as it carrieth a conformity to this estate.
[2.] It standeth in no need of natural supports; there is no food, raiment, marrying, or giving in marriage: Mat. xxii. 30, ‘But they are as the angels of God in heaven.’ There they live not as husbands and wives, but as the pure spiritual angels; we shall not stand in need of meat, drink, and sleep, as now we do. Now what a blessed thing is it to have either privilege, to have bodies wholly obedient to the spirit, and bodies that are not subjected to present necessities!
III. That these same vile bodies shall be changed into glorious bodies.
1. I prove it from the nature of the resurrection. It will not be a resurrection unless that which fell rise again, and that which was dead be revived. Therefore the same bodies which were buried in the grave shall be raised up. If the same body were joined to another soul, or the same soul united to another body, it would not be the resurrection of the same man. Neither at the latter day do we expect a new creation, but a restitution; not a production of a new body, but the raising of that which we had before. These houses of clay, these habitations of flesh, must again receive their old inhabitant. Nothing dieth but the body, and when we died we died in no other body but our own, and therefore we cannot be said to revive and rise again, but in our own flesh, and in our own body.
2. I prove it from the testimony of scripture, which is full and pregnant to the purpose: John v. 28, 29, ‘Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.’ Who shall come forth? They who are in the graves; that is, men with respect to their bodies, the same bodies wherein they lived on earth, and which were laid in the grave. So again, Job xix. 26. 27, ‘And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me.’ ‘In flesh ‘showeth the reality, ‘my flesh’ showeth the identity and propriety; it is not a stranger’s eye, another eye, but ‘these eyes’ shall see him: Rom. viii. 11, ‘He that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.’ So that it is this mortal body which is quickened, and which at the resurrection becometh spiritual and incorruptible. Once more, 1 Cor. xv. 53, ‘For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.’ Not that another body shall succeed in place of this, but this very body shall be changed; not in substance, but qualities. So here in the text, ‘Who shall change our vile bodies;’ 173not a body which was never ours, nor never vile, but the same body that was once ours, and was once vile. Again, Rev. xx. 13, ‘And the sea gave up the dead which were in it: and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.’ But if the same bodies did not rise, neither the sea nor the grave would give up their dead. That shall rise again which the grave giveth up, which the sea giveth up; therefore the same body which was buried shall be revived. Thus the scripture is full in the proof of it, as of the resurrection, so of the resurrection of the same numerical body.
3. From the final cause of the resurrection, which is that every one may be judged, and receive according to the things done in the body: 2 Cor. v. 10, ‘For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.’ The things were done in the body, and therefore not only the soul but the body must be punished and rewarded. As Tertullian pleadeth, Should Marcion be raised up for Valentinus, and the peccancy of one body be punished in another that never offended?
4. From the pattern of Christ; such a body as Christ had in the resurrection and ascension, such bodies shall we have: ‘For our vile body shall be made like his glorious body;’ and he rose as ‘the first fruits of them that slept,’ as the representative head, 1 Cor. xv. 20;’ And he that raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise us up also by Jesus,’ 2 Cor. iv. 14. Now the body in which Christ rose was the same body which was assumed of the virgin, which was nailed to the cross, laid in the grave; and with the same body he entered into heaven, and there remaineth the same according to substance and lineaments that it was here upon earth, only changed in qualities. So our bodies remain the same in substance, only freed from the quality of its abasements, and endowed with glorious qualities fit for the heavenly estate; and look, as the decays and reparations of our bodies do not make them cease to be the same bodies we bring with us into the world, so neither the change they undergo by death, nor the glorious qualities wherewith they are endowed when raised again, do make them other bodies for substance than now they are.
IV. What grounds there are to facilitate our belief and hope of the resurrection.
1. It is a work of omnipotency. We are apt to say, How can it be that when our bodies are turned into dust, and that dust mingled with other dust, and hath undergone many transmutations, that every one should have his own body and flesh again? Why, consider the infinite and absolute power of God, and this will make it more reconcilable to your thoughts, and this hard point will be of easier digestion to your faith. To an infinite power there is no difficulty at all. The text saith, ‘According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.’ How much can God’s power outwork our thoughts? For he were not infinite if he might be comprehended. We are no fit judges of the extent of his power. Many things are marvellous in our eyes which are not so to God, Zech. viii. 6. Therefore we must not confine God to the limits of created beings, or our finite understandings. Alas! our cockleshell cannot empty an ocean; we do no 174more know what God can do than a worm knoweth a man. He that made the world out of nothing, cannot he raise the dead? He that made such multitudes of creatures out of the dark chaos, hath he for gotten what is become of our dust? That Almighty, he that gave life and being to that which before was not, cannot he raise the dead? He that turned Moses’s rod into a serpent, and from a serpent into a rod again, cannot he raise us out of the dust into men, and turn us from men into dust, and from the same dust raise us up into the same men and women again?
2. We have relief from the justice of God. All nations will grant that God is, and that he is a rewarder of good and bad. Now in this life he doth not dispense these rewards. Many instruments of public good are made a sacrifice to public hatred, and wicked men have the world at will; therefore there is a judgment when this life is ended; and if there be a judgment, men must be capable to receive rewards and punishments. You will say, So they are, by having an immortal soul. Ay! but the soul is not all of man; the body is a part, it hath had its share in the work, and therefore it is most equal to conceive it shall have its share in the reward and punishment It is the body which is gratified by the pleasures of sin for a season, the body which hath endured the pain and trouble of faithful obedience to Christ; and therefore there shall be a resurrection of the just and unjust, that men may receive according to what they have done in the body. God made the whole man, and therefore glorifieth and punisheth the whole man. The apostle urgeth this to the godly: 1 Cor. xv. 29, ‘Else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead rise not at all, why then are they baptized for the dead?’
3. God’s unchangeable covenant-love, which inclineth him to seek after their dust after it hath been so long buried in oblivion. God hath taken a believer into covenant with himself, body and soul; therefore Christ proveth the resurrection from God’s covenant-title: Mat. xxii. 31, 32, ‘But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’ To be a God to any is to be a benefactor: Gen. ix. 26, ‘And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem.’ Not blessed be Shem, but blessed be ‘the Lord God of Shem.’ To be a benefactor belongs to an infinite eternal power; if he had not eternal glory to bestow upon us, he would not justify his covenant-title: Heb. xi. 16, ‘Wherefore he is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.’ Now God is a benefactor not to one part only, but to their whole persons. Their bodies had the mark of his covenant upon them, their dust is in covenant with him; and where ever it is disposed, he will look after it; their death and rotting in the grave doth not make void his interest, nor cause his care and affection towards them to cease.
4. The redemption of Christ, which extendeth to the bodies of saints, as often interpreted in scripture, as where Christ speaketh of his Father’s charge; this was a special article in the eternal covenant: John vi. 39, ‘And this is the Father’s will that hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last 175day;’ not so much as a leg, nor a piece of an ear. Christ hath engaged himself to this; he is the guardian of the grave; as Rizpah kept the bodies of Saul’s sons, 2 Sam. xxi. 10. Christ hath the keys of death and hell; Christ hath the charge of the elect to the very day of the resurrection, that he may give a good account of them when all perils and hazards are over, and may not lose so much as their dust, but gather it up again. Where the intention of his death is spoken of: 1 Thes. v. 10, ‘Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him;’ that is, whether dead or alive, for they that are said to be dead in the Lord, are said to be fallen asleep. Whether we live here or die, we should live a spiritual life here and an eternal life in glory hereafter. So where the obligation is urged: 1 Cor. vi. 20, ‘For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’ There would be no consequence if Christ had not purchased the body as well as the soul; and Christ will not lose the least of his purchase. If he exact duty from the body, you may expect glory for the body. So redemption is particularly applied to the body: Rom. viii. 23, ‘Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.’ The body is bought with the blood of Christ.
5. The honour which is put upon the bodies of the saints.
[1.] They are members of Christ: 1 Cor. vi. 15, ‘Know ye not that 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.’ The members of Christ shall not remain in death, but certainly be raised up again. When a godly man dieth, the union between soul and body is dissolved, but not the union between him and Christ. As Christ’s own natural body in the grave was not separated from his person, and the hypostatical union was not dissolved. It was the Lord of glory that was crucified, and the Lord of glory who was laid in the grave; so the mystical union is not dissolved between Christ and his people, who are his mystical body, when they are dead; as some read the place, Isa. xxvi. 19, ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.’ They are Christ’s body though dead in the grave.
[2.] They are temples of the Holy Ghost; therefore if thy body be destroyed, it shall be built up again: 1 Cor. vi. 19, ‘Know ye not that your bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost?’ As Christ redeemed not the soul only, but the whole man, so the Spirit in Christ’s name taketh possession both of body and soul. The body is cleansed and sanctified by the Spirit, as well as the soul, and therefore it is quickened by the Spirit: Rom. viii. 11, ‘But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.’ The Holy Ghost will not leave his mansion or dwelling-place. The dust of believers belongeth to him, who were once his temple; so it is a pledge of the resurrection.
Use 1. Is exhortation to all holy conversation and godliness; and that you may not carry it beyond the matter in hand—
1. Do not debase the body by making it an instrument of sin. It is sacrilege to profane and prostitute that which is holy to a common use. As Belshazzar bid defiance to the God of heaven by quaffing 176and carousing in the cups of the temple, so do you pollute that which is holy if you defile your bodies by uncleanness and intemperance, which are members of Christ, temples of the Holy Ghost, in covenant with God, and in time to be glorified for ever. When you make your members weapons of unrighteousness, Rom. vi. 13, it is contrary to your covenant dedication, to the honour God putteth, and meaneth further to put upon the body. Do but consider, when lust hath spent our strength, and carnal projects and practices have wasted our spirits, how can we look for the recompense of a glorious reward, a blessed resurrection? Do these believe such an estate that put the body to so vile an use? What! with these eyes to see the Redeemer, which are windows and inlets to sin? Think you that God will put honour upon that body which they dishonour so much? Sure they think their bodies shall never rise again, that care not to what uncleanness they do abuse them.
2. Do not offend God to gratify the body or preserve any bodily interest. Love to the body and the bodily estate proves often an occasion of sinning. Men first mistake self, and then misplace it; they mistake self, thinking themselves more concerned as a body than a soul; yea, farther, prefer the conveniencies of the body before the body itself; and they misplace self when they value these things above the conscience of their duty to God. To please the body they forfeit the comfort and happiness of the soul, as when to gratify a pleasing lust they run the hazard of eternal torments, Mat. v. 29, 30. Or to save the body, when as we should suffer the loss of life, or limb, or an estate for a good conscience. Oh, consider, whatever your loss be in this kind, it will be repaired. He that healed Malchus’s ear, he can restore yourselves to yourselves again, though for his sake you suffer bodily tortures. Surely a man that believes the resurrection of the body should not fear though exposed to fight with beasts at Ephesus, 1 Cor. xv. 32, though ready to be torn in pieces by an enraged multitude: Heb. xi. 35, ‘And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.’ To escape upon God’s terms, they rejected the deliverance offered by the enemies, and believed the resurrection offered by God; they might have come off body whole, but not heart-whole. In the intermission of their tortures, being advised to yield, they did believe there was a resurrection to an immortal glorious blessed life, which would recompense their pains with eternal pleasures. Nay, if the trial should not be so high; if for a more plentiful life, and to live at large, men should dispense with a principle of conscience. This should not be; if you love your bodies, your bodies shall be well enough; if you can trust the fidelity of Christ, never leave his service, nor abate anything of your strictness, to please the flesh.’
3. Do not spare the body to do God service. A believer, if he look backward or forward, upward or downward, seeth no reason to spare the body. Backward, what pains did Christ endure in his body? his face spit upon, his hands and feet nailed to the cross, his head crowned with thorns; in his lifetime neglected: ‘he bore our sins in his body on the tree;’ and shall we be so tender and delicate of our bodies as not to endure a little pains for God’s sake? Forward: 2 Cor. v. 1, ‘For we know if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, 177we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in. the heavens.’ A poor house of clay, though that be crumbled into dust, it is better to be worn out with labour than eaten out with rust: Acts xxvi. 7, ‘Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.’ At the day of judgment it will be no grief of heart that we have lived faithfully, painfully, in the exercise of godliness, in fasting and praying, and labouring for God; though it have deprived your bodies of some pleasures which others take, that live a life of pomp and ease, and in carnal delights; when they are full of horror and amazement, you will have your reward. These eyes which are often lifted up in prayer shall see your Redeemer; those knees which are made hard like a camel’s hoof by your daily addresses to God shall be softened; those spirits which are wasted in godly exercises shall amply be repaired. Upward, I hope one day my body shall be in heaven, and there is the place of my rest: Rev. xiv. 13, ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, that they may rest from their labours.’ The soul will remember the body, as Pharaoh’s butler did Joseph: I had strength, and was willing to spend it for God. Downward: ‘Fear him that is able to cast both body and soul into hell,’ Mat. x. 28. There are pains inflicted immediately on the body; how much better is it to take a little pains now!
Use 2. Is to put us upon self-reflection. How shall we know that this will be our condition, that our bodies shall be raised up to the fellowship of this glory?
1. If we be partakers of the first resurrection. There is the resurrection of the soul from the power of sin, and the resurrection of the body from the power of death. They that have part in the first resurrection, over those ‘the second death hath no power,’ Rev. xx. 6. The resurrection to the life of holiness and the resurrection to the life of glory have an intimate connection the one with the other; and the life of grace is put as the remedy against our death by sin: Rom. iii. 10, ‘The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.’ The sting and hurt of death is taken away when, upon account of Christ’s righteousness, we are made partakers of his Spirit. Our conversation is one sort of quickening and resurrection, and maketh way for the other, the quickening and raising of our bodies. Therefore, is the life of grace begun? is the body and soul made a temple of the Holy Ghost, the place where he manifesteth his power and presence? Rom. viii. 11, ‘If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by the Spirit that dwelleth in you.’ He that hath once honoured the body by his presence will not suffer corruption always to remain upon it.
2. How doth this life discover itself? Are you like Christ? 1 John iv. 17. If you are such in the world as he was in the world. The change of a christian beginneth in his soul, first changed there into the image and likeness of Christ, and then his body is made like unto his glorious body. Christ beginneth with the soul, but he endeth with the body. Therefore that a christian should look after, to be like Christ in holiness, and then he will be like him in glory, to be such as he was, and to walk as he walked, to be humble, useful, and fruitful, and then 178God will take care for other things which belong to our happiness. Is our soul ennobled with his image? do we resemble Christ here more and more?
3. You may know that your bodies shall be raised to the fellowship of this glory by the use you put your bodies unto. If we pamper the body, altogether provide for the satisfying its lust, you choose your heaven here, and slight the happiness which God hath intended for it in another world. Some proclaim their atheism, ‘Let us eat and drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we shall die.’ But you secretly cherish it while you serve your lusts in a more cleanly manner, withhold your hearts from nothing that can satisfy and please your lusts. Will you know whither you shall go, to heaven or hell? Rom. viii. 13, ‘If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live;’ and Gal. vi. 8, ‘He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.’ Do yon gratify or crucify the flesh? Flesh-pleasers are flesh-destroyers. For the present you dishonour the body, which should be the temple of the Holy Ghost, and which one day he will make so glorious; and for the future you destroy the happiness of the body. Well, then, if for love to your body you follow only its present lusts, and care only for the things of the body, you act the greatest enmity and hostility against your own bodies that is imaginable; for fleshly lusts do not only war against the soul, but the body also, and destroy that part which they seem to gratify.
4. If you look, and long, and prepare for a better estate: 2 Cor. v. 1, 2, ‘For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens: for in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.’ There will be an earnest waiting for this glory. Certainly God will never bestow it upon us against our wills, nor without our consent; there must be an earnest desire and a serious preparation. Those that cannot endure to hear of a remove would be always here; they are satisfied with what is now, and cannot part with it for what is to come. We groan chiefly for the intimate presence of our souls with Christ, and some unwilling Bess ariseth because we are loath to part with the body; but if we are sure that in due time we shall have the society of the body in glory, why should we hang back? These beloved friends, which part with so much pain and grief, shall meet together again with pleasure and joy; therefore we should overcome our natural inclinations to the present life.179
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