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first, the matter contained in these words in itself: secondly, we shall shew the force of the consequence; that it may be understood how it tends to establish this conclusion, Earthly things are not to be affected by us.
In the former part three things are to be considered : the Author of the gift; the time of the bestowal; the gift itself.
1. The Author, or the Cause of the glorious and blessed life which we expect, is Christ himself: Whence he is called our life by a causal not an essential predication; because it was he that promised this life to us, it was he that merited it for us, it was he prepared it, he that will bestow it. He promisd it, in the name of the Father, Luke xii. 32, Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdonı; and in his own name, John X. 28, I give unto them eternal life, &c. He merited it, 1 John iv. 9, God sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him; and I John v. 11, God hath
hath prepared us for this life, and this eternal life for us. He hath prepared us, and made us meet for the participation of this life by his Spirit; He hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, Col. i. 12. He hath quickened us together with Christ : by grace ye are saved, Ephes. ii. 5. He hath also prepared this kingdom for us by his ascension; I go to prepare a place for you : And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also, John xiv. 23. Finally, he will bestow upon his people this crown of eternal life; Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him, John xvii. 2. There is laid up for me a crown of righleousness which the Lord shall give me, 2 Tim. iv. 8. Christ, then is rightly called our life, i. e. the author or the cause of our eternal life : as it is in Heb. v. 9, And being
them that obey him.
2. Now let us consider the circumstances of time: When he shall appear, Then we shall obtain a glorious life. The revealing, or manifestation, or appearing of Christ, is propounded in a threefold manner in the Scriptures :
First, he is manifested bodily in the flesh, to the bodily eyes of men, in his nativity. Whence Simeon, Luke ii. 30, congratulates himself on the bodily sight of Christ: Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. God was manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iji. 16. . Secondly, he is manifested spiritually in the preaching of the Gospel, to the spiritual eyes of believers. Of this manifestation Paul speaks in Gal. ii. I, Who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ wus evidently set forth. And in John, 1 Epist. i. 2, The life was made manifest, &c.
Thirdly, he remains to be manifested to the whole world in the splendour of his glory, by his coming to judge the living and the dead. Of this final manifestation the Apostle is speaking : for unto this day the glorification of his saints is deferred, doubtless to be perfected then. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, Job xix. 25. And 1 Cor, xv. 52, 53, The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption ; and this mortal immortality. This, then, is that festal day of which the Apostle subjoins a clear and most delightful promise in these words following :
3. Then shall ye also appear with him in glory, or glorious] That is, Then shall ye each be made like to your glorious Head and Saviour Jesus Christ. The promised glory of this eternal life (if I may speak with the Schoolmen) consists in a twofold array; in the robe of the soul, and the robe of the body. The robe of the soul consists, First, in the manifest vision of God, which succeeds to faith ; according to that declaration of the Apostle, Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face, 1 Cor. xiii. 12. Secondly, in that perfect fruition, which succeeds to hope: They shall neither hunger, nor thirst; since the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unlo living fountains of waters : and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, Rev. vii. 16. Thirdly, in the perfect love of God, which succeeds to our imperfect love, and shall perfect it for ever : Prophecies shall fail, tongues shall cease; but love never faileth, 1 Cor. xiii. 8. But indeed, what of glory and of happiness shall it not comprise ? To see, to love, to enjoy God! we are not only not able to express it, but we cannot comprehend it in our mind: For truly says Gregory, Moral 27, 26, When mortal man would discourse about eternal glory, he disputes as one blind about light.
That glorious robe of the body consists in the various endowments with which it shall then be adorned: In brightness; The righteous shall shine forth as the sun, Matt. xiii. 43: in exemption from suffering ; this corruptible shall put on incorruption, 1 Cor. xv. 53: in agility; which, according to Augustine, shall be such, that wherever the spirit flies, there shall the body also furthwith be. Other things were likewise added by some of the Schoolmen ; but it is not my purpose with over nicety to define any thing about these matters; that saying of the Apostle, in 1 Cor. xv. 43, 44, shall suffice, It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If any one desires to see more about the state of the blessed, let him consult Prosper, De vit. contempl. lib. i. cap. 4; Parisiensis, De universo ; Albert, Compend. lib. vii. cap. 23, 24, &c. Thomæ Summ. part. iii. qu. 82. art. 1, 2, &c.
And thus much concerning the gift of glory, the time of the bestowment, and Christ the giver thereof. Now, in the second place, we shall consider how wonderfully all these things conduce to the contempt of earthly, and the desire of heavenly things.
First, then, that state of glory promised to us and daily expected, ought to move us to despise earthly things. For if the heirs of an earthly king should disdain to be occupied in low and abject employments; how much more does it behove those destined for a celestial kingdom, to tread under foot the lusts of earthly things ? That saying of Alexander is worthy of remembrance, who, when invited
to a contest of running with certain plebeians, said, that it was not befitting the son of a king to enter the course except with kings. It behoves us also to maintain this royal temper, and to resolve that we cannot, in conformity with the dignity of our condition, engage with worldly minded men in the contest for earthly things; but that we ought so to frame our course with the sons of God and coheirs of heaven, as to seek and obtain heavenly things. This is what Christ advised; Take no thought, saying, what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed ? for after all these things do the Gentiles seek : but seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, Matt. vi. 31. A saint, while he seeks after eternity alone, holds beneath him every thing transitory, says Gregory, Moral l. 3. 14.
Secondly, if we seriously consider who is the bestower of this glorious crown, that likewise will excite us to despise earthly things. Christ our life, as we before shewed, promised it, he merited it, he will assign this crown of glory: But to whom? to those who seek and delight in earthly things? By no means; but to those who seek the things that are above, and love his appearing, 2 Tim. iv. 8. It is proper to expect the reward from him for whom you have fought: if for the world, the flesh, or the devil, expect no other reward than death: if for Christ, then, and then only, it will be lawful to hope for glory in the end : He who soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he who soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting, Gal. vi. 8. Admirably spake Bernard : There is no road to the kingdom, without the first-fruits of the kingdom; nor can that man hope for the kingdom of heaven, who has not yet obtained the dominion over his own lusts. So 1 John iii. 2, 3, When Christ shall appear, we shall be like him : And whosoever hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure. But Christ was as pure from the lusts of earthly things as could possibly be : for he would not yield the least inclination of his body to the devil, to obtain thereby all the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them, Matt. iv. Thus we ought to be animated, if we expect life eternal from Christ our life.
Thirdly, the circumstances of the time in which we expect this glorious life is a most powerful inducement to withdraw our minds from the love of earthly things. For when shall this crown of glory be given ? When he shall appear, i. e. on the day of the coming of the Lord. Now this day, if we believe the Scriptures, will come both quickly and suddenly
Quickly; Yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry, Heb. X. 37. And Rev. xxii. 12, Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me. It ought not, then, to seem troublesome or burdensome to regulate the short period of our time, and to abstain from earthly things, when Christ is at hand, and promises us eternal glory. The hireling, because he ponders heavily his drudgery, thinks lightly of the reward, says Gregory, Moral, 8. 8. Be patient, therefore, and stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord druweth nigh, Jas. v. 8.
That day shall likewise come suddenly: As the light shineth from heaven, so shall the Son of Man be in his day, Luke xvii. 24. The day of the Lord will come as a thief, 2 Pet. iii. 10. Now then who does not see how dangerous it is to be involved in earthly things and desires, and so to be taken unawares ? Christ foresees this our danger, and forewarns us to avoid it; Be ye like unto men that wait for their Lord when he will return from the wedding, &c. Luke xii. 36. Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame, Rev. xvi. 15. What, then, will become of us, if we are taken unawares immersed in all these earthly things? Hear Gregory; He who would not go with the stream, let him avoid the torrent; lest by that which allures him, he be carried to that which he avoids : for he is drawn to the same point to which he inclines, Moral 22. 2.
And thus it has been briefly shewn, that whether we consider the gift itself of eternal glory, or the giver, or the time of giving, all and every one of these considerations ought to withdraw us from the love of earthly things, and excite us constantly to seek and to meditate on heavenly things. It now remains that from the whole we deduce