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the titles of Saints and Blessed.84 « On such the se“cond death hath no power.” They are secured from apostacy, from impenitence, and from the lake of fre and brimstone. “ But they shall be priests of God " and of Christ.” They shall have free access by faith and hope to the holy places of the sanctuary, and offer sacrifices well-pleasing to God.
To explain more fully what remains of the passage, is foreign to our present purpose. Let it now suffice to have shown, what we undertook to demonstrate, that this prophecy contains nothing which obliges us to conclude, that a happy resurrection of bodies is to take place prior to the last day.65
LIX. The consequence of the Resurrection hoped for, is THE LIFE EVERLASTING; which is often the subject of promise in holy writ.m It is mentioned last in order in the Creed, because it is in reality“ the end “ of our faith,"n the ultimate object of our hope, the completion of our salvation, and the final issue and consummation of the whole scheme of redemption.
Lx. The term LIFE doth not here signify the bare existence of the person living; for in that respect even the wicked live, whom, nevertheless, Divine justice has consigned to everlasting death. We are to understand by this expression, a state of the highest felicity. To live is not merely to exist, but to be happy.* In this sense the word is often used in the Scriptures. Thus we read ; " Let my lord king David live;"O “ Your
* Non est vivere vita, sed valere. m John iii. 16, 36. Rom. ii. 7. Tit. iii. 7. and elsewhere passim. ni Pet. i. 9.
• 1 Kings i. 31. where the Chaldee Paraphrast says by Lel him be happy, Let him prosper.
84 See Note LXXXIV. 85 See Note LXXXV.
“ heart shall live for ever;”p “ The humble shall see
this, and be glad; and your heart shall live, that “ seek God.”
LXI. This life is called EVERLASTING, in contradistinction to the present animal life. Even from the beginning, animal life was capable of being terminated by death, in the event of the entrance of sin; and after the commission of sin, its termination by death became indispensable. But the life which follows the resurrection, shall have no bound or termination, because all sin will be removed at the utmost distance; because the body itself will be endowed with such qualities as shall repel every kind of corruption; and, in fine, because it will be conferred on man, not as the former life for the probation of his constancy, but as a recompence for well-doing, and as a reward due to the satisfaction which Christ has made in our room. Hence the distinction which the Apostle states betwixt “ the life “ that now is,” and “ that which is to come."
LXI. The life everlasting, as it is here mentioned in the Creed, is the life of the whole man, and includes the highest felicity of soul and body inseparably united together. But the nature and extent of this life can neither be conceived by the human mind in the present imperfect state, nor expressed by mortal tongues. “It “ doth not yet appear what we shall be.” To this subject the following words of Paul are generally accommodated : “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nei“ther have entered into the heart of man, the things “ which God hath prepared for them that love him.” And the accommodation is very proper; for although these words of Paul, quoted from Isaiah, immediately respect the mysteries of the Gospel which were unknown to the ancient people of Israel, yet the situation of Christians in reference to the things now concealed from our view which shall be disclosed at the last day, exactly resembles the condition of the ancient Israelites in relation to those things which were then hid, and were at last to be unveiled in the fulness of time.
- Ps. xvii. 26. i i Tim. iv. 8. • 1 Cor. ii. 9.
9 Ps. Ixix. 32. s 1 John iï. 2.
LXI. It has pleased God, however, to favour us with a partial discovery, in order to serve, in a manner, for a taste. And at least a general and indistinct knowledge of what he has revealed, is necessary to give stability to our faith, and vigour to our hope, and to enable us to relish the sweetness of the promises. We may therefore attempt a rude and imperfect delineation, such as our present capacity admits, of the life everlasting. The Life Everlasting is a most blessed state of the whole man, in which he rejoices in the immediate presence, the contemplation, and the glorious enjoyment of God in heaven, and is thus conformed to him as far as possible, in both soul and body, without the least interruption or diminution of his happiness to all eternity.
LXIV. As in the creation of this visible world, the method which the wisdom of God adopted, was to begin with things more rude and imperfect, and to proceed gradually in a course of successive days till his work attained a perfection in which it was worthy of his attributes to rest; so in exalting his people to the summit of felicity, he causes them to ascend by certain regular steps. In the present life, he gives them the first-fruits of the promised bliss. He reserves greater things for the soul after its departure from this vile
body, till, at the resurrection, it recover the body, wonderfully changed and improved. Then at last they shall be put in possession of the greatest and most consummate felicity.
Lxv. It pleased God to cause a cluster of grapes to be brought from Canaan to the Israelites in the wilderness, that from this they might form a judgment regarding the fertility of the promised land. In like manner, whilst believers are prosecuting their journey through the howling deserts of this world to the heavenly country, he grants them some anticipation of those joys, to the full possession of which he will admit them in due season. The design of this indulgence is, partly that they may be comforted in the day of adversity; partly that by judging of the full harvest from the first-fruits, they may infer the excellence and greatness of the felicity reserved for them in heaven; but principally, that by the prelibation of that glorious reward which they expect, they may be animated to persevere with increasing alacrity in their course of faith and holiness.
LXVI. Even here, we know, God brings his chosen to himself, “ causes them to approach unto him,”u and allows them to see his glory, in holy meditation, in prayer, and other devotional exercises. He gives them a kind of taste and experience of his goodness. Even here he favours them with the kisses of his love, and brings them into his chambers, and into bis banqueting-house, displaying over them bis banner of love. Even here he allows them so to possess and enjoy him as their portion, that their soul most delightfully relies on him u Ps. lxv. 4. lxxiii. 28.
Ps. lxii. 2.
Song i. 2, 4. ü. 4.
as their treasure, is enriched by his riches, nourished by his abundance, guarded by his power, directed by his wisdom, refreshed by his goodness, and, in fine, replenished by his all-sufficiency. Even here he indulges them with “ the riches of the full assurance of under“ standing,”: with the strongest assurance of possessing consummate felicity in due season, with peace of conscience and tranquillity of mind,b and as the natural result of so many invaluable blessings, with “joy un“ speakable and full of glory.”c
LXVII. But how exalted sover these enjoyments are, they are but inconsiderable, in comparison of those which await the souls of believers, after their release from their bodies. We ought ever to hold it as an indubitable truth, that the soul subsists after the termination of the natural life.* The Apostle would otherwise have in vain desired “ to depart and to be with Christ;”d for no man that has altogether ceased to be, can be with Christ. He would have falsely affirmed, too, that we are come “ to the “spirits of just men made perfect,”e if no such spirits exist. What is the purpose of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, but to inform us of the existence of separate souls, and of their different conditions even before the day of general judgment ?f Since Christ was in all things made like unto his brethren, sin only excepted, is not our soul of the same nature with Christ's soul ?: But did his soul at his departure vanish into air, so that after death he became absolutely nothing! What Christian breast does not tremble at
* Animam remanere post animal. 3 Col. ii. 2.
a 2 Tim. iv, 8. • Philip. iv. 7.
C2 Pct. i. 8. Philip. i. 23.
e Heb. xii. 23. í Luke xvi. 19. et seq.
& Heb. ii. 17. 1V. 15.