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being. But lest we should misunderstand this he makes a particular application of the same doctrine to the thief on the cross, saying, “ To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise," thereby declaring to all the world that the soul which departs in his faith and fear shall be with him in selfconsciousness and happiness immediately on its departure from the body. Of such he has distinctly said that they live, saying God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. He has moreover shown that they live. He gave (at the mount of the transfiguration) to three of his disciples, and by their testimony to all the world, a most sensible proof that the spirits of the just are living; that they are living in happiness, that they are living in glory, that they converse with their Redeemer.
Christ hath indeed given us, by promise, and by miracle, a more sensible manifestation of his kingdom than is at first sight apprehended. He hath promised that where he is there shall also his servant be. If we ask where that is, He hath said in Paradise; that is, in the region of delight and happiness. If we ask when, He hath said today, that is, immediately on our departure from the body; and if we ask how, He hath in a great measure condescended to answer this. O highly honoured disciples! This mighty secret your Lord and your God revealed to you for the comfort of the world! While the vision of the transfiguration remains on record, let no believer say that this kingdom of glory is so far above him as that he can form no idea of it. Do we know what life is ? Do we know what light is? Do we know what motion is? Do we know what love is? Do we know what conversation is ? All this was exemplified and exhibited as constituting Christ's kingdom on the mount of transfiguration. Moses and Elias appeared there in glory, and conversed and talked with Him. To what purpose was this glorious vision? Was it revealed for the private gratification of those three disciples? Was it that Christ stood in need of consolation from Moses and Elias? Or was it, according to the frigid gloss of some interpreters, merely to symbolize that the Gospel had taken place of the law? Was it not rather to show to all the world a sensible manifestation of his kingdom? It is his Divine will that the ministry and testimony of men shall be a means of our believing. It is indeed no part of the Evangelist's intention to explain any particulars concerning the substance of the bodies of Christ, Moses, and Elias. This is a subject beyond our comprehension. To ask with what bodies do they come is a vain inquiry, because interminable difficulties envelop the subject; but we are warranted in firmly and confidently inferring from the testimony of Christ's disciples that the individuals, Moses and Elias, and therefore all true believers, are living, and not only living, but living in happiness, and not only living in happiness, but living in happiness with Christ, and not only living in happiness with Christ, but in happiness of which we may form some conception. Can we not conceive his conversing with saints in Paradise as well as with sinners on earth? Do we believe that He was affable to all who conversed with him on earth? That He, in like manner, is affable to Moses, Elias, and to all the saints in heaven, we have the testimony of those who speak that they do know, and testify that they have seen. Shall we not receive their witness? If He tell us earthly things, and we believe not, how shall we believe if He tell of heavenly things.
We are apt to think too basely and too grossly of our present senses, and therefore too coldly of a purer state of being. Whereas our senses may give us very lively notions as of the august design of our Creator in the first creation of man, so also of the happiness prepared for his elect. The senses administer to holiness. The senses had a great deal to do with the holiness of King David. The beautiful scenes of the earth where he traced the footsteps of his Creator, helped to inspire many of his psalms. He who made all things made each thing with reference to another. When He gave man all things necessary for life He gave him all things necessary for godliness; and He intended, (for He saw that all his works were good,) that they should kindle holiness as well as joy in man's heart. And those who feel (especially in spiritual ordinances and devotional exercises,) any vestiges of this secret, intense, and holy in
fluence stealing over the soul, as they probably are warmed with a spark of David's holiness, so they probably experience a foretaste of the kingdom of Christ. If it be alleged that such cordials and presages cannot be made the indispensable precursors of salvation, and that many good and pious persons live and die without having experienced them, I answer, the curse! Cursed is the ground for our sake! Alas ! it is the curse, which as it has deprived us of our best blessings, so, in particular, of this paramount one, the sense of God's favour. It is the primæval curse which blinds our eyes, which weakens our bodies, and renders the visible creation so unfriendly and ungenial, that many, even of those who are regenerate, are so far from being able to form a conception of the happiness of man in the kingdom of Christ that they have never formed a conception of the happiness of man even in his innocent and terrestrial state. Nevertheless there is a sacred art of extracting happiness almost altogether spiritual from natural things, by a reference of the excellence of the creature to the Creator. This art, (as it consists with holiness) may help our conceptions of the kingdom of Christ. For as whatever does not consist with holiness alienates and darkens the mind from such conceptions, so even earthly pleasures which do consist with holiness may faintly shadow out the happiness of Christ's kingdom. And as the contemplation of His matchless works, the influence of the sun or the breeze, singing his praises in the congregation, the satisfaction of hunger and thirst, converse and communion with those whom we love, as all this consists with holiness, and did and does actually contribute to the holiness of saints on earth, so, in like manner, it is revealed that the enjoyment of life, motion, light, love, and more perfect and sensible communion with the Redeemer, will constitute the holiness and happiness of saints in the mediatorial kingdom of Christ between death and the resurrection; all which are notions by no means vague and indefinite, but perfectly level to our comprehension.
If it be asked how does this doctrine of the immediate self-consciousness of the soul agree with the doctrine of the general resurrection of the body? I answer Christ is the resurrection, the resurrection of the soul and body both. There is nothing revealed in Scripture concerning the resurrection of the body which does not accord with the soul being in self-consciousness with Christ in the meanwhile. If it be asked what becomes of the day of judgment? I answer that it appears probable from Scripture that an anticipative, particular, or virtual judgment will be passed upon each one immediately after death, and that to those who overcome Christ will give a white stone, a sign of acquittal which shall be their surety against the terrors of the general day of judgment and the second death.