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telling the secrets of it; and when St. Paul had his rapture into heaven, he saw fine things, and heard strange words, but they were apprta púuala, “ words that he could not speak," and secrets that he could not understand, and secrets that he could not communicate. For as a man staring upon the broad
eye of the sun at his noon of solstice, feels his heat, and dwells in light, and loses the sight of his eyes, and perceives nothing distinctly; but the organ is confounded, and the faculty amazed with too big a beauty: so was St. Paul in his ecstacy; he saw that he could see nothing to be told below, and he perceived the glories were too big for flesh and blood, and that the beauties of separate souls were not to be understood by the soul in conjunction; and, therefore, after all the fine things that he saw, we only know what we knew before, viz. that the soul can live when the body is
that it can subsist without the body; that there are very great glories reserved for them that serve God; that they who die in Christ, shall live with him; that the body is a prison, and the soul is in fetters, while we are alive; and that when the body dies, the soul springs and leaps from her prison, and enters into the first liberty of the sons of God. Now much of this did rely upon the same argument, apon which the wise Gentiles of old concluded the immortality of the soul; even because we are here very miserable and very poor: 'we are sick, and we are afflicted; we do well, and we are disgraced; we speak well, and we are derided; we tell truths, and few believe us; but the proud are exalted, and the wicked are delivered, and evil men reign over us, and the covetous snatch our little bundles of money from us, and the 'fiscus' gathers our rents; and every where the wisest and the best men are oppressed; but, therefore, because it is thus, and thus it is not well, we hope for some great good thing hereafter. “ For if, in this life only, we had hope,”-then we Christians, all we to whom persecution is allotted for our portion, we who must be patient under the cross, and receive injuries, and say nothing but prayers,—"we certainly were of all men the most miserable.”
Well then: in this life we see plainly that our portion is not; here we have hopes; but not here only, we shall go into another place, where we shall have more hopes : our faith
shall have more evidence, it shall be of things seen afar off; and our hopes shall be of more certainty and perspicuity, and next to possession; we shall have very much good, and be very sure of much more. Here then are three propositions to be considered.
1. The servants of God in this world are very miserable, were it not for their hopes of what is to come hereafter.
2. Though this be a place of hopes, yet we have not our hopes only here. “ If in this life only we had hopes,” saith the Apostle; meaning, that in another life also we have hopes; not only metonymically, taking hopes for the thing we hope for; but properly, and for the acts, objects, and causes of hope. In the state of separation the godly shall have the vast joys of a certain intuitive hope, according to their several proportions and capacities.
3. The consummation and perfection of their felicity, when all their miseries shall be changed into glories, is in the world to come, after the resurrection of the dead; which is the main thing which St. Paul here intends.
1. The servants of God in this life are calamitous and afflicted; they must live under the cross. “ He that will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” said our glorious Lord and Master. And we see this prophetic precept (for it is both a prophecy and a commandment, and, therefore, shall be obeyed whether we will or no,) but I say, we see it verified by the experience of every day. For here the violent oppress the meek; and they that are charitable, shall receive injuries. The apostles who preached Christ crucified, were themselves persecuted, and put to violent deaths; and Christianity itself, for three hundred years, was the public hatred; and yet then it was that men loved God best, and suffered more for him ; then, they did most good, and least of evil. In this world, men thrive by villany; and lying and deceiving is accounted just; and to be rich is to be wise ; and tyranny is honourable ; and though little thefts, and petty mischiefs, are interrupted by the laws; yet if a mischief become public and great, acted by princes, and effected by armies, and robberies be done by whole fleets, it is virtue, and it is glory : it fills the mouths of fools that wonder, and employs the pens of witty men,
that eat the bread of flattery. How many thousand bottles of tears, and how many millions of sighs does God every day record, while the oppressed and the poor pray unto him, worship him, speak great things of his holy name, study to please him, beg for helps that they may become gracious in his
eyes, and are so, and yet never sing in all their life, but when they sing God's praises out of duty, with a sad heart and a hopeful spirit, living only upon the future, weary of to-day, and sustained only by the hope of to-morrow's event? and after all, their eyes are dim with weeping and looking upon distances, as knowing they shall never be happy till the new heavens and the new earth'
appear. But I need not instance in the miserabili,' in them that dwell in dungeons, and lay their head in places of trouble and disease: take those servants of God who have greatest plenty, who are encircled with blessings, whom this world calls prosperous, and see if they have not fightings within, and crosses without, contradiction of accidents, and perpetuity of temptations, the devil assaulting them, and their own weakness betraying them ; fears encompassing them round about, lest they lose the favour of God, and shame sitting heavily upon them, when they remember how often they talk foolishly, and lose their duty, and dishonour their greatest relations, and walk unworthy of those glories which they would fain obtain; and all this is, besides the unavoidable accidents of mortality, sickly bodies, troublesome times, changes of government, loss of interests, unquiet and peevish accidents round about them: so that when they consider to what they are primarily obliged ; that they must in some instances deny their appetite, in others they must quit their relations, in all they must deny themselves, when their natural or secular danger tempts to sin or danger; and that for the support of their wills, and the strengthening their resolutions, against the arguments and solicitation of passions, they have nothing but the promises of another world; they will easily see that all the splendour of their condition, which fools admire, and wise men use temperately, and handle with caution, as they try the edge of a razor, is so far from making them recompense for the sufferings of this world, that the reserves and expectations of the next is, that conjugation of
aids, by which only they can well and wisely bear the calamities of their present plenty.
But if we look round about us, and see how many righteous causes are oppressed, how many good men are reproached, how religion is persecuted, upon what strange principles the greatest princes of the world transact their greatest affairs, how easily they make wars, and how suddenly they break leagues; and at what expense, and vast pensions, they corrupt each other's officers; and how the greatest part of mankind watches to devour one another : and they that are devoured are commonly the best, the poor and the harmless, the gentle and uncrafty, the simple and religious; and then how many ways all good men are exposed to danger; and that our scene of duty lies as much in passive graces as in active; it must be confessed that this is a place of wasps and insects, of vipers and dragons, of tigers and bears; but the sheep are eaten by men, or devoured by wolves and foxes, or die of the rot; and when they do not, yet every year they redeem their lives by giving their fleece and their milk, and must die, when their death will pay the charges of the knife.
Now, from this, I say, it was that the very heathen, Plutarch and Cicero, Pythagoras and Hierocles, Plato and many others, did argue and conclude, that there must be a day of recompenses to come hereafter, which would set all right again : and from hence also our blessed Saviour himself did convince the Sadducees in their fond and pertinacious denying of the resurrection : for that is the meaning of that argument, which our blessed Lord did choose as being clearly and infallibly the aptest of any in the Old Testament, to prove the resurrection; and though the deduction is not at first so plain and evident, yet upon nearer intuition, the interpretation is easy, and the argument excellent and proper,
For it is observed by the learned among the Jews, that when God is by way of particular relation, and especial benediction, appropriated to any one, it is intended that God is to him a rewarder and benefactor,' gads EvegyétnS, DEOS Mio Janodons; for that is the first thing and the last, that every man believes and feels of God; and, therefore, St. Paul sums up the Gentiles' creed in this compendium : “ He that cometh to God, must believe that God is; and that he is a rewarder of
them that diligently seek him.” And as it is in the indefinite expression, so it is in the limited; as it is in the absolute, so also in the relative. God is the rewarder; and to be their God, is to be their rewarder, to be their benefactor, and their gracious Lord. “Ego ero Deus vester,"_“ I will be your God;" that is, ‘I will do you good,' says Aben Esra: and Philo; το δε θεός αιώνιος ίσον εστι τω, ο χαριζόμενος, ου τότε μεν, TÓTe dè oý, asi dè, xai ouvexws. “The everlasting God, that is, as if he had said, one that will do you good ; not sometimes some, and sometimes none at all, but frequently, and for ever:” and this we find also observed by St. Paul: “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God," and that by which the relative appellative is verified, is the consequent benefit; He is “called their God; for he hath provided for them a city.”
Upon this account, the argument of our blessed Saviour is this: “ God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;" that is, the gracious God, the benefactor, the rewarder; and, therefore, Abraham is not dead, but is fallen asleep, and he shall be restored in the resurrection to receive those blessings and rewards, by the title of which, God was called the God of Abraham.' For in this world Abraham had not that harvest of blessings, which is consigned by that glorious appellative; he was an exile from his country; he stood far off from the possession of his hopes; he lived an ambulatory life; he spent most of his days without an heir ; he had a constant piety; and, at the latter end of his life, one great blessing was given him; and because that was allayed by the anger of his wife, and the expulsion of his handmaid, and the ejection of Ishmael, and the danger of the lad; and his great calamity about the matter of Isaac's sacrifice; and all his faith, and patience, and piety, was rewarded with nothing but promises of things a great way off; and before the possession of them, he went out of this world : it is undeniably certain that God, who, after the departure of the patriarchs, did still love to be called “their God, did intend to signify that they should be restored to a state of life, and a capacity of those greatest blessings, which were the foundation of that title and that relation. God is not the God of the dead, but