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back upon the state in which he was on earth, and to remember his sins, his sorrows, his fears, his tears, his enemies and dangers, his wants and calamities, must needs make his joys more joyful. When he reaches his journey's end, he will look back upon the way. When the fight is done, and the danger over, his rejoicing in the remembrance of them is not done, nor the praises of his Redeemer yet over. But if we had nothing but rest on earth, what room would there be for these rejoicings and praises in heaven?

V. We labour under a natural incapacity of rest on earth.

1. We ourselves are at present incapable subjects of rest; and that in respect both of soul and body. Can a soul that is so weak in grace, so prone to sin, so hampered with contradictory principles and desires, have perfect rest on earth? What is rest, but the perfection of our graces in habit and act, to know God perfectly, and love him, and rejoice in him? How then can the soul be at rest, which possesses so little of this knowledge, and love, and joy ?

And our bodies are incapable as well as our souls. They are not now those purified bodies which they shall be, when this corruptible hath put on incorruption, and this mortal hath put on immortality. They are our prisons and our burdens, so full of defects and infirmities, that we are fain to spend the most of our time in repairing them, and supplying their continual wants, and mollifying their grievances. Is it possible that an immortal soul should have rest, in such a mean and distempered habitation, especially when it every day expects to be turned out, and to leave its beloved companion to the worms? Surely these sickly and weary bodies must be refined to a perfection suitable thereto before they can be capable of perfect rest.

2. We want those objects on earth which can alone afford us rest. Those we do enjoy, are insufficient; and that which is sufficient is absent from us.

What we possess here is insufficient to be our rest. We enjoy the world, and its labours, and fruits; but alas! what is there in the world to give us happiness? They that have the most of it, have the greatest burden, and the least rest of any others. They that set most by it, and rejoice most in it, do cry out at last that all is a vanity and vexation of spirit.”

And as what we enjoy on earth is insufficient to be our rest, so God who is sufficient, is here little enjoyed. It is not on earth that he has prepared the presence chamber of his glory. He has drawn the curtain between us and him. We are far from him as creatures, and farther as frail mortals, and farthest of all as sinners. We hear now and then a word of comfort from him, and receive his love tokens, to keep up our hearts and hopes: but, alas ! this is not our full enjoyment. “While we are present in the body, we are absent from the Lord;" even absent while he is present; for though he be not far from us, seeing “we live, and move, and have our being from him," who is all in all, yet have we not eyes now capable of seeing him, for mortals cannot see God and live. And can any soul that has made God his portion, and chosen him for his only happiness, find rest in so vast a distance from him, and so seldom and small enjoyment of him?

Lastly. There is a moral impropriety in our having rest on earth. There is a worthiness which must go before our rest. It has the nature of a reward; not, indeed, a reward of debt, but a reward of grace.

66 To him that overcometh,” says Christ, “ will I grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne.”

66 Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “I have fought a good fight,” says Paul, “ I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give unto me in that day; and not to me only, but to all them that love his appearing.” And are we fit for the crown, before we have overcome; or the prize, before we have run the race; or to be ruler of ten cities, before we have improved our ten talents; or to enter into the joy of our Lord, before we have well done as good and faithful servants; or to inherit the kingdom, before we have manifested our love to Christ, by our love to his people ? Let men cry down works as they please, yet these you will find are the conditions of the crown.

God will not alter the course of justice to give you rest, before you have laboured ; nor the crown of glory, till you have overcome. Thus we see reasons enough, why our rest should remain till the life to come.

CHAPTER VII.

WHETHER DEPARTED SOULS ENJOY THE HEAVENLY

REST BEFORE THE RESURRECTION.

I HAVE but one thing more to clear, before I come to the use of this doctrine, and that is, whether the heavenly rest remain till the resurrection, before we shall enjoy it, or whether we shall have possession of it before. Truly, it would be a somewhat uncomfortable doctrine to the godly at their death, to think of being deprived of their glory till the resurrection ; but though the soul separated from the body will not enjoy the glory and happiness of heaven so fully and perfectly as it shall after the resurrection, when they shall be again united; yet, that the souls of believers do enjoy inconceivable blessedness and glory, even while they remain separated from the body, I shall prove by the following considerations :

1. Though the discourse of the rich man in hell, and Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, be but a parable ; yet it is unlikely that Christ would employ language even in a parable, which seemed evidently to intimate and suppose the happiness or misery of the soul immediately after death, if there were no such thing.

Does not Christ's argument with the Sadducees proceed upon this supposition? “God," says he, is not the God of the dead, but of the living;” and consequently the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were then living.

3. Does not Scripture tell us, that Enoch and Elijah are already taken up to heaven? And can we think that they possess that glory alone ?

4. Did not Peter, and James, and John, see Moses also with Christ on the Mount? Yet the Scripture says Moses died. And is it likely that Christ deluded their senses, in showing them Moses, if he did not partake of that glory till the resurrection ?

5. The words of Christ to the thief on the cross, very clearly teach us this doctrine, “ This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

6. The words of Stephen are, in like manner, as plain as we can desire, “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Surely, if the Lord received it, it is neither asleep, nor dead, nor annihilated; but is where he is, and beholds

his glory.

7. These words of Paul, are so exceedingly plain, that I yet understand not what tolerable exception can be made against them, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an 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: If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed

up

of life. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord : (for we walk by faith, not by sight.) We are confident, I say, willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” What could be spoken more plainly?

8. No less clear is that declaration of the same apostle, in his epistle to the Philippians “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is far better." What sense were there in these words, if Paul had not expected to enjoy Christ till the resurrection? Why should he be in a strait, or desire to depart? Would he be with Christ ever the sooner for that? Nay, should he not rather have been loath to depart upon the very grounds which he here states? for while he was in the flesh, he enjoyed something of Christ; but being departed, he would, according to this doctrine, enjoy nothing of Christ till the resurrection.

9. Consider that declaration in the epistle to the Hebrews : “ Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”

Lastly, That passage is no less plain, “ Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth, yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” If the blessedness were only in resting in the grave, then a beast or stone were as blessed ; nay, it were evidently a curse, and not a blessing.

Though I have but briefly named these arguments, yet I doubt not but if you will consider them, you will discern the clear evidence of this important truth. Believe, therefore, O faithful souls, whatever all the deceivers in the world may say to the contrary, that your souls shall no sooner leave their prisons of flesh, than angels will be their convoy; Christ, with all the perfected spirits of the just, will be their company; heaven will be their residence, and God will be their happiness. You may therefore when you die, boldly say as Stephen, “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," or, as Christ, “ Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

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