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these two states is preferable? Ah! you cannot avoid wishing for the lot of the righteous; hasten, then, and seek the favour of the Lord of angels, and of Jesus Christ their prince. Thus, and thus only, will they become your friends.
MATTHEW Xxv. 34.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
THE moralists and divines of every age have made frequent lamentations on the shortness and misery of human life. Man rises into being, enjoys some happiness, experiences much sorrow, and then sinks into the "house of silence." But shall the light never dawn upon the dreary cearments of the tomb? Shall corruption for ever prey upon the mouldering carcass? Shall death hold his victims in bonds that shall never be broken? No: for as "it is appointed unto all men once to die," so "after that cometh the judgment;" at the sound of the trump of God, the dust so long inanimate shall spring into new
life; and at this second advent of the Redeemer, the tenants of the grave shall appear before his sacred tribunal.
My text is taken from a description of the events subsequent to this resurrection; to this resurrection, so terrible to the wicked, since to them it is the commencement of eternal perdition; so joyful to the righteous, since it secures to them endless felicity; so interesting to all men, since it irreversibly fixes their destinies. All nations being gathered together before the judgment-seat of Christ, the actions of their past lives being accurately examined, their true character being displayed, and the most concealed motives of their conduct being exposed to the view of the assembled universe, the Judge with infinite benignity, shall address the pardoned and redeemed sinners whom he acknowledges as his children, and shall sày, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
My sole object in discoursing from these words, is to point out the constituents of that future felicity, which is here promised by the Saviour; the expectation of which is the prop and support, the consolation and triumph of every Christian. Such a subject is of immense consequence. It is necessary to know the nature of our future enjoyment, that we may see the propriety of those self-denying duties enjoined by the gospel as means for its attainment, and be thereby induced sincerely to perform them; that the hopes of it may teach us to purify our souls, and may comfort us amidst all the trials, the agitations, and afflictions of life; and that the frequent contemplation of it may prompt the ardent tribute of gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise to that God who
has provided it for us, to that Saviour who has poured out his most precious blood to remove those obstacles to our salvation which were otherwise insuperable, and to that Holy Spirit who sanctifies and prepares us for heaven.
It is almost unnecessary to premise that whatever I can say on this theme, will fall infinitely below my subject. The painter who should essay to display upon his canvass the brilliancy and lustre of the sun, would be certain of failing in the attempt; how much weaker, when compared with the bright original, must be the most elevated description of those felicities, which even Paul, who had been caught up to the third heaven, declared to be unutterable, and of which the beloved disciple who had lain in the bosom of the Saviour, asserted, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." Nevertheless, some idea may be had of this glory to be revealed, by considering that it includes the renewal and glorification of the body; the expansion of the understanding, with proper objects for its employment; the perfection of holiness, with a sufficient sphere for its exertion; the removal of every species of misery; the blissful society of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect; the vision and fruition of God and the Redeemer; and the certainty that these enjoyments shall be eternal.
1. In heaven the bodies of the saints shall be renewed and glorified. Corruption may prey upon them after they are laid in the dust; the particles which compose them may be scattered over every part of the earth, yet the Almighty will re-assemble these particles, and our bodies will rise essentially the same as they were when laid in the grave. But as they will be reared again by the Lord, in order that they may
partake of his mercies throughout eternity, it will be necessary, lest they should be overborne by the abundant communications of his love, that certain changes should take place in them, which, without destroying their identity, will infinitely ennoble them. As in the spiritual resurrection, God does not create a new soul, but sanctifies that which was dead in sin, and gives it new principles, desires, and affections; so in the natural resurrection he will not create a new body, but will give to that which has lain dead in the tomb, new qualities and more exalted properties. Natural reason, unaided by revelation, cannot establish the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead; much less can it teach us the precise changes that shall then take place in the bodies of believers. The Scriptures, however, are sufficiently explicit on this subject. St. Paul tells us, in the 15th chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, the body "is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." And in the 3d chapter to the Philippians, he informs us, that "Jesus Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." In these two passages we have a satisfactory and clear enumeration of the principal differences between our earthly and heavenly bodies. Our earthly bodies are corruptible, subject to innumerable disorders, advancing daily to that state where they must loathsomely putrefy: our heavenly bodies, like the souls which shall animate them, will be incorruptible and immortal; disease and languishment shall never assail them; death shall have no power over them. Our earthly bodies are com
paratively dishonourable and vile; unlike to that of Adam in Paradise, they are through our sins, exposed to deformity, defects, and defilement. Our heavenly bodies will beam with glory; they will, (as our Saviour assures us,) shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father; they shall be lustrous, like the face of Moses when he descended from Sinai, or like that of Jesus when he was transfigured upon Tabor. Our earthly bodies are weak; our strength at best is inconsiderable and frail; it daily decays through the infirmities of age; and is liable to be destroyed by innumerable circumstances. Our heavenly bodies will be of vast and astonishing power and force, which shall be unmingled with impotence, and unexposed to diminution. Our earthly bodies are natural, or (as the original word also signifies,) animal ones; fitted for the low functions of animal life. Our heavenly ones will be spiritual ones, fitted to aid in the employments, to participate in the delights of an immortal spirit in its highest state of perfection. Our earthly bodies, (it is the last and most important idea which St. Paul gives us on this subject,) are like that of fallen Adam: our heavenly bodies will be made conformed to that of our blessed Saviour. Not to that with which he travelled through Judea, experiencing misery, distress, hunger, pain, all the innocent infirmities of our nature; not to that which sunk down in agony at Gethsemane, and bled upon the cross; but to that in which he rose resplendent from the holy mountain, to that in which he shall come at last to judge the universe. O! blissful change, when wilt thou arrive! when shall these poor, feeble, disordered frames be thus ennobled and glorified through the grace of our