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This is an important text, which details the privileges of Christians.-They are co-heirs.-Concorporated, being of the same body.-They have excellent companions, all this proceeding from a gospel promise.-And, that promise founded on Christ, the mediator of this blessed covenant. See another similitude, 1 Pet. ii. 4,
Thus much for the doctrinal part.
From this subject the following inferences may be drawn for the purpose of information.
1. That the soul of man is of a peculiar and wonderful nature.
(1.) It is far beyond and above the soul of a brute. Of the beast it is said, Gen. ix. 4, "But flesh, with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat." So that let out the blood of the animal, you let out all its vital power; it is dissolved at death; the spirit of a beast goeth downward.* Whether beasts shall retain, or regain their existence, I have nothing to say, though some maintain it. Yet, doubtless, the soul of man is more excellent than that of a brute, in either its present operations, or future existence. A beast can only look on objects of sense present before it. But the soul of man can look backward by recollection, inward by reflection, forward by anticipation, and upward by contemplation; it hath a wonderful sagacity, and excellent faculties, it is capable of moral good and evil; having a conscience that can bear witness of actions or thoughts, to excuse or accuse.† It can ascend to heaven, descend to hell, and travel through the universe in the twinkling of an eye.
(2.) As for its future existence in a separate state, that I have proved before. In Matt. xvi. 26, the passage speaks of " losing a man's own soul;" and again we read of "God's destroying both soul and body :"+ but you
Eccl. iii. 21.
+ Rom. ii. 15.
Matt. x. 28.
must not understand this, as though men should have no souls, or that they should be reduced to nothing, but only of losing the happiness of the soul, by its being cast into hell, to be tormented for ever. In this case, men will wish they had no souls, or that they never had a being. But that there are different states for immortal spirits in the other world, the parable of Dives and Lazarus doth sufficiently demonstrate.
2. Though in the other world it is said, the spirits of just men are made perfect; yet this doth not exclude the perfection of their bodies: these also,
(1.) Shall be made perfect at the resurrection; for the apostle saith, "The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption," &c. "He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body;"* that is, Christ's: which, doubtless, shines as bright now or brighter than it did at his transfiguration, when his "face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."+ Such sparkling glory shall the bodies of saints have; indeed they shall be more like spirits than bodies, so transparent, that as one saith, all the veins, nerves, and muscles, shall be seen, as in a glass; so agile and nimble, that they shall instantaneously move from one end of the heavens to the other, even as a thought; so powerful, that they shall be able to move mountains. They shall be freed from all imperfection, and be absolutely perfect as Adam's body was before he sinned, possibly better. And as the bodies of the dead shall be raised and glorified at the great day, so shall also such as shall be found alive, be changed, perfected, and glorified; which is a mystery possibly declared to Paul when rapt up into the third heavens,‡ 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52.
+ Matt. xvii. 2.
* 1 Cor. xv. 42-44. Phil. iii. 21. 2 Cor. xii. 4, 5.
"The dead in Christ shall rise first, and they which are alive, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."*
(2.) But though the text speaks of the spirits of just men made perfect, yet it doth not exclude even the bodies of just men made perfect; for there were then three bodies in heaven already, Enoch before the law, Elijah under the law, and Christ under the gospel: how they were taken up, whether Enoch was taken up in a whirlwind, as Elijah was, or as Christ in a cloud, we know not; but they were escorted into paradise, the third heaven, the place of the blessed, and have taken possession of the land of life. So they are not only definitely in heaven, as souls are in a state, but circumscriptively as bodies are said to be in a place; and there we shall find them. But it is only said of their spirits that we are come to them, not of their bodies.
3. It follows that wicked men on earth have communion with devils and lost spirits in hell. This I gather from the rule of contraries, and it is intimated 1 Cor. x. 20, “I would not that you should have fellowship with devils." This is done two ways:
(1.) Sensibly, knowingly, or by plain contract: that such a thing hath been, testimonies might be produced. Some indeed have denied that there are any such beings as witches or persons confederate with the devil; but scripture and history speak another language. Scripture tells us of Jannes, Jambres, Balaam, Manasseh, Simon, Elymas, and the witch of Endor; and of the law condemning such to be cut off by the sword of justice. But I shall not enlarge here, since Mr. Glanvill's treatise and others are full of stories of * 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.
such as have, by wicked ceremonies, maintained familiar correspondence with the infernal fiend.
(2.) Some maintain familiarity with Satan, who little suspect it, and will not believe it; as all wicked workers and graceless sinners; Satan tempts, they consent, and are led captive in invisible chains at his pleasure. "He is that prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works effectually ¿vepyõvvros, in the children of disobedience;"* he commands, they obey; they hold a frightful correspondence with him, and maintain conformity to the devil's sins, and those of lost souls, lying, cursing, envy, pride, hatred of true godliness, heart-murder, and such like spiritual wickedness; which are the devil's proper sins, who is the “ruler of the darkness of the world,"† and holds his black hand over their eyes; "for he is the god of this world, that blindeth the minds of them that believe not." Poor sinners will defy the devil, shudder at mentioning him, yet cordially deify him, and embrace his criminal suggestions. Woe, woe to such poor sinners; "he that committeth sin is of the devil!" || Look to it: you are acting the devil's part when you commit sin, and show yourselves to be of your father the devil. § You are your own tempters; so saith the apostle, James i. 14, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed."
4. Great is the privilege of Christianity, wherein God hath delivered us from the "power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son," Col. i. 13. O blessed change! "To be turned from darkness to light; from the power of Satan to God!" What a mercy it is to a malefactor con
2 Tim. ii. 26. || 1 John iii. 8.
Eph. ii. 2. + Eph. vi. 12.
2 Cor. iv. 4. Acts xxvi. 18.
demned, going pinioned up the ladder to be hanged, when he immediately receives a pardon, a new life, a new nature, high privileges and blessings. What a mercy, when a man is taken out of prison from fetters, fellow-slaves, a sturdy imperious gaoler, and is carried into his prince's presence-chamber, where he converseth familiarly with the prince and his favourites? Such is the case of a convert; he hath familiar intercourse with God, Christ, holy angels, and with quick and dead, whom he may call brethren, though he never saw them here below. Though God be a dreadful Judge, a consuming fire, yet in Christ he is a reconciled Father, and makes all the creatures to become friends, and angels attendants, "for they are ministering spirits to the poorest heirs of salvation." All things in this world are theirs in Christ, and tending to their good.
O what a large charter hath a child of God! "he inherits all things." Devils cannot hurt him, all creatures shall help him; saints on earth pray for him, and are his companions; saints in heaven are his friends. O happy souls! Grace makes a Christian a friend to himself, a friend to God, a favourite of heaven, and he shall be at last an inhabitant in the glorious mansions above. All this comes by the gospel dispensation. O admire the riches of grace! 2 Tim. i. 9, 10.
The passage which has been considered may lead to examination.
Who are those that have arrived at this privilege, that are thus come to the spirits of just men made perfect? It is not every one's attainment; there are some souls," without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of proHeb. i. 14. 1 Cor iii. 21. Rom. viii. 28.