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instance of redeeming mercy. He who is conscious of many sins forgiven, the same loveth much; “but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” In this respect then the probationary experience of the saints, painful and degrading as it is in the first instance, is by divine grace ultimately overruled to enhance their sense of God's condescension and goodness. The elect angels, so far as we know, have never sinned; and therefore have not been placed in jeopardy by hell-deserving guilt. They have not been plucked as brands from the burning;—they have no inward corruptions nor evil world to contend against;—they have not "come out of great tribulation.” Nothing so much enhances our sense of present blessings, as the retrospect of opposite dangers and evils. The comforts of a fire-side are never more appreciated, than when we have been subjected to the pelting and severity of a storm: the refreshment of cooling shade is best understood by him, who has wandered through desert wastes, exposed to the fury of a vertical sun. The angels' conception of the condescension of God must likewise be inferior to ours; for we are the immediate objects on whom it is bestowed; they rather the spectators, who "desire to look into" these things. God hath never identified himself with the nature of angels by assuming it, as he has done ours:' and in one word,-Christ did not DIE for them; and therefore they can only view his mercy as it is exhibited to others.
II. Having, as I trust, established the general position, that in the resurrection the condition of the saints will transcend in glory that of the angels, I pass on to the next consideration.
In my last Essay I contended, (from 1 Cor. v. 6–8 and Phil. i. 21-23,) that the souls of believers are, in the intermediate state, in the enjoyment of the presence of Christ. In what manner they see him and are with him, is not, that I am aware of, revealed; it is for us to receive the fact itself; and for the rest, it appears to me the safest to leave it in that obscurity, in which it has pleased God to envelope it. But in regard to the person of the FATHER, I think it is clearly intimated to us, that our formal introduction and presentation to Him does not take place until the period of the resurrection. Though we are now said to be sons, (or rather “sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,''S) yet it is only the Spirit of adoption we have as yet received, which is the pledge and earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession: the adoption itself being identified with the redemption of the body, which is also the time of "the
9 Luke vii. 47.
* Hebrews ii. 16.
• 2 Cor. vi. 18.
manifestation of the sons of God." But as this is an important point in regard to the millennarian view of the Advent and Resurrection, I shall endeavour to illustrate it further.
When the Lord Jesus was risen from the dead he said to Mary, "that he was not yet ascended to his Father;">u plainly intimating, as I conceive, that Hades or Paradise, from which he was just come, was not the abode of the Father. may be inferred from the words of the Apostle concerning David; viz.—5David is not ascended into the heavens:''and the Psalmist himself defers the period of the beholding the face of God in righteousness, until he shall awake up with God's likeness."w
It would appear also, that the saints are not publicly declared to be the sons of God, until their glorious manifestation: for it is to this period Jesus refers, when he promises, concerning him that overcometh,—“I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." And there are various other scriptures referring the time of the saints' introduction to the royal presence, (if I may so say,) to the period of the resurrection. Thus St. Paul expresses his confidence, “that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise
up us also (meaning himself) by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”y In the epistle to the Thessalians he connects it with the advent; praying for their increase in love, “to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” Similar is the doctrine of St. Jude: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, Amen." Thus am I compelled to conclude, that man, whilst in the separate state, *
Compare Rom. viii. 15, 19, and 23; 2 Cor. v. 5, 6; Gal. iv. 5, 6; Ephes. i. 13, 14. u John xx. 17. v Acts ii. 34. w Psalm xvii. 15. x Rev. iii. 5. y 2 Cor. iv. 14. z1 Thess. iii. 13.
* There is a curious passage on this head by the ancient author of "Questions and Answers to the Orthodox,” bound up in the editions of Justyn Martyr's works, and incorrectly ascribed to him. Being asked, what became of those who came out of their graves after the resurrection of Jesus and went into the holy city and appeared unto many; and having stated, among other things in reply, that they went again to Hades with their bodies, in order to afford assurance to the souls there, that the resurrection of Christ was a pledge of the resurrection of all; he concludes by saying, They died not again, but continue in immortality, just as Enoch and Elijah, and are with them in Paradise, still waiting a change after the manner of the resurrection of Jesus Christ; according to the words of the Apostle,—"We shall all be changed." Aiýý αιτιαν εδε ετελευτησαν παλιν, αλλα μενεσιν εν αθανασια καθαπερ ο Εναχ και ο Ηλιας, και εισι συν αυτοις ευ το παραδεισω αναμενοντες την ηδη αιωνιαν της τε Χριςο αναςάσεως γινομενων κατα εναλλαγην καθ' ην, ως φησιν ο θειος αποστολος, παντες αλλαγησομεθα. Εις γαρ
hath no access to that light in which God dwells, and that he does not visibly behold the glory of God until that time when it shall be announced, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them.
But there is a yet greater depth in this part of our subject, which remains to be considered. Many expressions in Scripture lead to the conclusion, that the saints are not presented even to Christ until the period of the advent; and therefore, that in whatever way the saints, when absent from the body, are to be considered present with him, and to behold him by sight and not by faith, it is not in that glorified nature which he will possess, when he comes as “THE GREAT GOD AND OUR SAVIOUR.”
Thus it is written, that Christ sanctifies and cleanses the Church, “that he may present it to HIMSELF a glorious Church, &c. He bids his disciples pray, that they may be accounted worthy to escape the last tribulation and to stand before the Son of Man;d as if they had not been brought into his presence previously. Similar is the promise in John's Gospel, e that He will come again and receive them to HIMSELF; which it is difficult to reconcile with the notion of each believer being at death received to Christ. Agreeably with this view the Apostle says, that he had espoused the Corinthians to one husband, that he (Paul) might present them as a chaste virgin to Christ. He declares also of the Thessalonians, that they will be “his hope and crown of rejoicing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming." And St. John exhorts the saints to abide in Christ, “that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his
I pretend not to reconcile these two things, though I doubt not they may be so: they are both revealed, and I heartily believe them both. It may please God to give to another greater light on this subject than to myself.”+ αθανατον τε και αφθαρτον ζωην επω γεγονο τινος ή αναςασις, πλην τε Σωτηρος Χρισ8, διο και πρωτοτοκος των νεκρων, και απαρχή των κεκοιμημενων ανηγορευται. duestion IxXXV.I give this, without expressing any opinion on it, merely for the information of others.
* Not only can no man now approach to the presence of God; but there appears to be a distinction among the angels even, For Gabriel states it to be his privilege, that he stood in the presence of God: (Luke i. 11:) and of the angels who minister to the saints it is said, apparently by way of distinction, "In heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. xviii. 10. 31 Tim. vi. 16. b Rev. xxi. 3. c Ephes. v. 27.
d Luke xxi. 36. e xiv, 3. f2 Cor. xi. 2. 81 Thess. ii. 19. h 1 John ii. 28.
+ It is further worthy of observation, that the body in which Jesus was seen by his disciples after his resurrection, and in which he ascended, (as likewise the bodies in which we presume the saints, raised after his resurrection, ap. peared unto many,) was not such as he appeared in, when, together with Moses and Elijah, he was transfigured in the mount. And therefore these passages
III. Let us now inquire, concerning the resurrection saints, “with what body do they come?”
Our body is at present a great hindrance to our spiritual enjoyment. Even though the spirit be willing, the flesh is weak; and it has to be denied and carefully watched in order to subject it to the spirit; and to the last "we groan in it being burdened.” But the power of God will be so exerted in the resurrection, that we shall possess a spiritual body, which will assist, instead of retarding, the motions of the spirit; so that our very flesh may then be said to be athirst for the living God. But I cannot do better, in regard to this point, than request the reader's attention to St. Paul's plain and clear argumentation on this subject, contained in 1 Cor. xv. Having shewn, by an appeal to analogies in nature, that the corruption and dissolution of the body in the earth, must not be considered any impediment to the power of God to raise it up in a different form, since the same may be observed in regard to every grain of corn cast into the earth; (vv. 35– 38) he continues to illustrate the subject by noticing the different kinds of flesh which already exist; (as the flesh of men, of fishes, of birds, &c. v. 39;) and also the fact that we already see both heavenly and earthly bodies, and these with various degrees of glory; (vv. 40, 41;) and he then proceeds to apply the subject to the human body. It is placed in the grave under circumstances of corruption, dishonour, and weakness, a merely natural or animal body (tuxexov;) but it is raised up a spiritual body, incapable of corruption or death, and possessing power and glory. (vv. 42–46 and 53.) Our Lord himself declares the immortality of the resurrection saints, when he says, "neither can they die any more:"i* so that whatsoever we are to of Scripture may allude to the greatly different circumstances and character in which ihe saints will behold the Lord at his advent, compared with that appearance in which he condescends to be seen by them in their separate state. This notion is the more reconcileable with Scripture, if we consider, that when the Lord bid the disciples pray, (Luke xxi. 36,) that they might be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man, they were at that very time enjoying the privilege of standing, or possibly sitting, in his presence: yet he evidently makes no account of his presence under the circumstances in which he then was, compared with the period to which he adverts. So Justyn Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho, having noticed the power manifested by Christ, whereby devils were cast out in his name, considers it as nothing, compared with the glory and majesty and power to be assumed by him, when Daniel vii. 2, and following verses are fulfilled. So the passage beginning Ει δε τη τε παθες αυτε οικονομια τοσαυτη συναμις δεικνυται παρακολέθησασα και παρακολοθεσα, ποση και εν τη ενδοξω γινομεν» αυτ8 παράσια, &c.
* It is worthy of remark, in regard to the power and immortality of the body, that Jesus during his ministry gave a power to his disciples for a season, which, if held in perpetuity, would confer immortality on the possessor: viz. power over all manner of sickness and disease, and over all the power of the enemy,-the greatest and last enemy being death. See Matt. x. 1-8; Luke x. 18, 19.
i Luke xx. 36.
understand of the second death,''j we have this blessed assurance, ,-"He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”k Thus, though the body is to rise, it will undergo such a change, as shall render it flesh of a very different kind from that which we now possess.
We must notice likewise the resplendent glory of the body at this time. We have a description of it in the account of the transfiguration, when the Lord appeared in glory together with Moses and Elijah. “The fashion of his countenance was altered,”\__and his face did shine as the sun,"m_"and his raiment was white as the light,” shining exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth can white them.”n This particular description is not indeed expressly concerning the glory in which Moses and Elijah appeared, but of the body of Jesus: nevertheless, we have decided assurance, that the glorified saints will be exactly conformed to their Lord. Did the face of Jesus shine as the sun?—so also “shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Was his raiment white as the light?-50 “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever.”p Thus the Apostle argues, in the chapter of Corinthians before quoted, that as we have borne the image of the earthly [man,] we shall also bear the image of the heavenly: which heavenly man is “the Lord from heaven."q And in another place he declares, that the Lord will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."'*
Though I fear to enter into an inquiry on any subject, when we have no word from the Lord; yet I consider it equally reprehensible to be afraid of inquiry, when we have any light to guide us; therefore I would notice two or three other particulars revealed, concerning our future bodily state.
The first is, that there will be no murriage among the risen saints; which our Lord plainly declares in Luke xx. 35. And St. Paul seems to teach, that the distinction of sex will be done away; declaring "that there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female; but that all are one in Christ Jesus;
j Rev. xx. 12–14. k Ibid. ii. 11. Luke ix. 29. m Matt. xvii. 2. n Ibid. and Mark ix. 3. • Matt. xiii. 43. p Dan. xii. 3. 91 Cor. xv. 47–49. Phil. iii. 21.
* It would seem to be owing to the sun-like splendour of the Lord and his saints, that it is said of the New Jerusalem, "ihere was no need of the sun there, because the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Rev. xxi. 23.) When Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Da. mascus, it was with a glory "ABOVE (or exceeding) the brightness of the sun." (Acts xxvi. 13.) Isaiah iv. 5 may also relate to the shining of the saints in their new tabernacles or "dwelling-places,” their heavenly tabernacle being evidently their heavenly body. See 2 Cor. v. 1, 2.