« EdellinenJatka »
and if Christ's, then Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." It may be questioned, however, whether the latter passage does strictly refer to the resurrection state.
Another particular is, that the saints will have the power of conveying themselves, in the manner of angels, through the heavenly regions. This is evident, first, from the circumstance, that they will rise to meet the Lord in the air. And secondly, it may be clearly gathered from the assurance, that they are to be wanao, "equal to the angels;''u whose bodies, however fashioned, unquestionably possess this locomotive power.
The last particular I shall notice is, that they will possess the sense or faculty of taste,—at least, that they will eat and drink. To some this will appear a gross and carnal view of our angelic state; but this, I am persuaded, arises from the carnal state of our own minds, which cannot distinguish between the holy use and the abuse of a good thing. Wide is the difference between painting heaven like a Mahometan's paradise, (as if it consisted only in meats and drinks and sensual enjoyments,) and denying to the saints and angels those faculties, by which they are better enabled to appreciate the goodness of God. The man who can see the beauty of creation in fruits and flowers may be enabled to praise God accordingly; but he cannot understand so much of his power and goodness, as the man who likewise discovers a fragrance and a flavour in those fruits. “To the pure all things are pure."
But let us come to the Scripture testimony on this head; for on this we may safely rely, however human prejudice may be opposed to it. Did not our Lord eat and drink with his disciples, after his resurrection from the dead?v and did he not promise his apostles, as the recompense for their continuing with him in his temptations, “that they should eat and drink at his table in his kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." The heavenly messengers who visited Abraham, before the destruction of Sodom, ate with him; and are we to suppose that it was not a reality? or that they were destitute of any faculty whereby to appreciate the food they apparently consumed? The Lord Jesus on one occasion purposely demanded food, that he might convince his disciples of the reality of his resurrection:' but it were absurd to view it as a proof at all, if we must suppose the act of eating to have been itself only an illusion. Once more, the manna which fell in the wilderness, and which was different from any thing ever witnessed before or since, is called in Scripture "the bread of heaven;" and it is declared by the Psalmist, “that man did eat angel's food.” We may really just as well deny to the angels the sense of sight or of hearing, as of taste, and suppose that when they sung together, at the creation and at the birth of our Saviour, they understood not their own melody.
s Gal. iii. 28, 29. t1 Thess. iv. 17. u Luke xx. 36. v Acts x. 41.
w Luke xxii. 28-30. Gen. xviii. 8. y Luke xxiv. 41-43.
IV. I shall next briefly notice a few particulars concerning the intellectual faculties of the saints.
The memory will necessarily be wonderfully improved; decided indications of which are already afforded to spiritual persons. For example, the apostles of our Lord, whilst under training for the ministry, betrayed repeated instances of forgetfulness, in regard to the things which they had both seen and heard from their divine Master; but he promised, “that the Holy Ghost should bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had said to them. "a And we have now frequent instances of persons, who, when led to repentance, have sins brought by the Spirit to their recollection, which previously seemed to have been clean forgotten.
In the same manner I might dwell upon the want of understanding which men betray in their natural state; and shew how the Lord opened the understandings of his disciples, that they might understand the Scriptures.b For I apprehend, that every instance, in which we may perceive that our human faculties have been improved by the power of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of our God, is a pledge and earnest of the fulness of that which shall be wrought in us, when we are altogether conformed in body and spirit to his glorious image.
Concerning the increase of our knowledge wonderful and glorious things are spoken! The knowledge of the most spiritually minded and intellectual and learned is now, comparatively speaking, as nothing. St. Paul compares the present knowledge, even of the Church, to the understanding and thoughts and prattling of children; and says, that what we see of divine things are presented to the mind as through a glass, shrouded in comparative obscurity, (ev aviguati,) being only partially known. But hereafter we are to see face to face,” without
any veil, either on those things now hidden from us, or on our own powers of perception. Then we shall know EVEN AS WE ARE KNOWN! How we are known is plainly declared: “THE WORD OF GOD is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword;—piercing, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow;—and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the
z Psalm lxxviii. 24, 25. a John xiv. 26.
b Luke xxiv. 45. c1 Cor. xiii. 9, 12. d Heb. iv. 12, 13. James ii. 23. (Gen. xviii. 17. John xv, 15. b 1 Pet. i. 11, 12. i Ephes. iii. 18, 19.
heart;-neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."d Hereafter then shall we be admitted to as intimate a knowledge of the Deity! Nothing will be withheld from us of his purposes, his counsels, his mysteries, his attributes. This would be inconsistent with our privilege, as the friends and brethren of Jesus, and as the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty. For Abraham is called "the friend of God;"e and mark how the Lord accordingly treats him:-"Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" And Jesus decidedly encourages the same inference from the term friend: "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends: for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
I conceive, however, that this wonderful increase of knowledge will be gradually acquired. All that can be known will not burst upon us at once, and be immediately understood in its height and depth and length and breadth. Concerning the sufferings and future glory of Christ it is written,—“which things the angels desire to look into;'h which expression implies, that their knowledge of them is progressive; since they could not, were it otherwise, experience for one moment the unfulfilled desire. Nor is such a gradual and continual increase of the knowledge of God at all incompatible with the promises, that we shall see face to face, and know even as we are known.
We have previously observed, that the work of redemption is one of those occasions which afford a more glorious display of God's attributes. And throughout the ages to come, I doubt not but men and angels will be continually discovering fresh excellencies; even as St. Paul, when he prays that the Ephesian christians might be enabled to comprehend with all saints the breadth and length and depth and height of God's love, declares nevertheless, that it “passeth knowledge."
Connected with this consideration is a point, which has ever greatly interested Christians; viz.—the mutual recognition of the saints. “Shall we know each other in the heavenly state?”—is a question frequently asked; though the Scripture testimony is so clear on this head, that a question on the subject from an intelligent believer is somewhat surprising. For St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, gives us express instruction concerning them that sleep in Jesus, "that we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”—No hope of what? evidently, from the context, no hope of seeing them again. The heathen around them were indeed without hope in this respect; and therefore, when they lost their relatives and friends, sorrowed immeasurably and without consolation. But to the saints the Apostle says, “that if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, (thus returning again to be seen and known by his friends,) even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.” And then, explaining under what circumstances Christ will bring them with him, he adds, “Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” But there would be no peculiar and suitable comfort in them to a person sorrowing under a bereavement, unless they teach, that there is to be a recognition of the person. *
But besides this, we have evidence in Scripture of a faculty, occasionally communicated to man, something like the gift of discerning spirits; which enabled its possessors not only to recognise those whom they had previously known in the flesh, however changed the fashion of the countenance, but also to identify individuals whom they never could have seen before. Of this there are many instances. Such a power was apparently communicated to Peter, James and John, when they saw Moses and Elijah in glory on the mount. They had never seen them previously, and therefore could not have known them personally; yet Peter evidently discerns them, and mentions them by name. The saints likewise, who rose again after the resurrection of Christ, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many,m must have been identified by those to whom they appeared, or their resurrection would not have been a satisfactory evidence. The same power, together with an opposite and restrictive influence, appears to have been exercised on the two disciples (Peter and Alpheus, as Lightfoot supposes, travelling to Emmaus after our Lord's resurrection: for though Jesus was personally known to them, yet were their eyes holden, in the first instance, “that they should not know him;" and afterwards “their eyes were opened and they knew him.”n We have various instances of these opposite influences being exercised on different parties at the same time. For instance, the ass of Balaam saw the angel of the Lord, for some time before “the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam.” Elisha appears
* How very few, either of pious ministers or laymen, do really comfort the afflicted "with these words." Though the instruction is so plain and express, and the time of the saints' reappearance so much nearer, the generality do nevertheless view 1 Thess. iv. 13---18, as a dead letter, and prefer to offer consolations of human suggestion.
k 1 Thess. iv. 13-18. i Matt. xvii. 4. m Matti xxvii. 53. » Luke xxiv. 16 and 31. • Numb. xxii. 23, 25, 27, 31.
as if he himself had a perception of the angelic host, when he prayed the Lord to open the eyes of his servant, that he might see them. The glorious personage who appeared to Daniel by the river Hiddekel was seen by him only; "for the men that were with him saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves." In these, and similar instances which might be adduced, it is plain, that the individuals, who were supernaturally wrought upon, did previously exercise the ordinary use of their eyes, without any sensible diminution of the powers of vision; and therefore, when it is said that their eyes were opened, it refers to an enlarged faculty or capacity of perception granted to them. is to the point to notice also, that the devils discerned Jesus, notwithstanding the veil of the flesh, and were repeatedly forbidden to say that they knew him. This I apprehend is, because these fallen spirits do still retain the superior faculties of angels: and be it remembered, that the resurrection saints shall be as the angels in regard to their nature and mode of subsistence; only, as before stated, superior in rank: for “know ye not (saith the Apostle) that we shall judge angels?”?s
These things are enough, I trust, to assure us, that we shall recognise those dear friends who have fallen asleep in Jesus; and that we shall enjoy a conscious communion and fellowship, and be of one mind and spirit, with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Jonathan, Daniel, Peter, Paul, John, and the general assembly of the saints, who will "compass each other about with songs of deliverance."
V. There remains one point for consideration, comprehending many particulars; viz. the nature of the intercourse between the resurrection Church and those men in the flesh, who will dwell under the new dispensation. But though there are numerous scattered rays of light on this part of the subject, which if gathered into a focus would doubtless form a bright mass of evidence; yet I must confess that my eyes are not yet opened to discern this matter with clearness, and I conceive it unjustifiable to advance mere guesses and speculations. Some things, relative to those in the flesh, are so obvious that we cannot well mistake them. For example, there is abundant testimony that Israel after the flesh will be pre-eminent among the nations: it is plain also, that the earth will be renewed, and give forth its increase during the period in question;" so that the wilderness shall become as Eden, and the garden of the
p2 Kings vi. 16, 17.
9 Dan. x.4-7. Mark i. 24, 25; (see margin;) iii. 12; Luke iv. 41. s 1 Cor. vi. 3. t Ps. Ixvii. 6; civ. 30; Isa. xxxv. 1; Ezek. xxxiv. 24-27; Joel iii. 18; Amos ix. 13.