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2. Death dissolves the body itself. It consists of many parts curiously set together by the Creator, but then the beautiful frame is dashed in pieces and is resolved into its primitive dust. The tabernacle then is taken down, the earthly house is demolished, and lies in rubbish till the resurrection.
Death dissolves the vital flame that kept the body in life. It quenches that flame and puts out that candle. Sometimes it dissolves it suddenly as a burning candle when it is blown out, sometimes it works it out by degrees, like a candle burnt to the socket, which is dissolved at length and vanisheth away.
Death dissolves the communion betwixt the parts of the body. The flame being extinguished, the communication betwixt the parts which ceased not for many years, is then broken up. No more blood flows from the heart, no more flows to it from the other parts, so the last pulse beats. No more spirits from the brain. Then all falls down together. Then the body grows cold, and stiff, and pale. The eyes see no more, and the ears hear no more.
Death dissolves the joints and bands with which the body was united. While it feeds on the carcase in the grave, it looses the head from the body and the skull lies by itself. Then the strongest arms fall from the shoulder blade ; and then the joints of the thighs are loosed, and every bone lies by itself. Finally, the most minute particles of the body are separated. How soon are the flashes of flesh so dissolved and separated, that they are no more visible to the eye of him that looks into the grave, they cannot be discerned from common dust. And though the bones last longer, yet their solidity is not proof against the power of death, but they also moulder into dust at length.
II. Shew that this body shall be dissolved.
1. There is an unalterable statute of death under which men are concluded. “It is appointed unto men once to die.” There is no peradventure in it but we must needs die. Though some will not fear death, every man must see it. “ What man is he that liveth and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave ?” Death is a champion, with whom all must grapple. An inexorable messenger, who cannot be diverted from executing his orders, by the power of the mighty.
2. Daily observation tells us we must die. " For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others." There is room enough for us, notwithstanding all the multitudes that were on earth before us. It is long since deatli began to transport men into another world. It is daily carrying away vast numbers, and none hear the grave say
Let us now,
it is enough. The world is like a great fair, some entering, others going away. Men, like travellers, enter at one port and go out by another.
3. All men consist of perishing materials. “ Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." The strongest are but brittle earthen vessels. The soul is but meanly housed while in this body. A small spark falling on the train of these perishing principles will blow up the house. There is something more astonishing in our life than in our death. Diseases are death’s harbingers.
4. We have sinful souls, therefore dying bodies. The wicked must die by virtue of the threatening. “For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The godly also must die, that as death entered by sin, so sin may go out by death. is in the wall of the house, therefore it must be pulled down.
Finally, we are hasting to a dissolution. “ Man cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as, a shadow and continueth not. Our days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle. They are passed as the swift ships, as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.”
All the improvement I shall make of this, is to exhort you to prepare for your dissolution.
Motives—1. Your eternal state will be according to the state in which you die. Heaven and hell depend upon it. As to you, death will open the door of the one or the other. As the tree falls so it must lie.
2. Consider what it will be to go into another world, a world of spirits, with which we have very little acquaintance. How terrible is intercourse with spirits now to poor mortals. Acquaint thyself then, with the Lord of that other world.
3. It is but a short time which we have to prepare for death. Now or never. The work is great-and the time allowed for it is short.
4. Much of our short time is already past. None can say they have as much to come. Our life here is but a short preface to a long eternity
5. The time we have is flying away. Time past has taken an eternal farewell. There is no rekindling of the candle that is burnt to ashes. The stream of time is the most rapid current.
Lastly, If once death carry us away there is no coming back to inend matters. “If a man die, shall he live again ?" If death were a thing upon which we could be allowed to try our hand, it would not be so dangerous. But it is only once to die, right or wrong. “ We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
By this building and house, we are to understand the glorified state of the saints after this life, that is, their heavenly house of God's own making not by the hands of men, but by the fingers of God.
Doctrine. When the tabernacle of the saint's body is dissolved by death, they have a house of glory in heaven ready for them. Man when he is dead, is not done; though the body dies, the soul doth not. Death is but a departure or change, to some it is a miserable, to others a happy change. So it is to the saints. Their souls depart from the earthly house, to a house of glory. I design not to handle at large this great subject, but only to glean a few things to show what sort of a house the glory of heaven is.
1. It is a dwelling house, not an house in which to lodge, but to dwell and abide. “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill ?" The body is but a tabernacle, in which the believing soul lodges for a little time, like a shepherd, a soldier, or a pilgrim in his tent. But at death the soul comes home to the house in which it shall abide for ever, and go no more out. The believer's dwelling house is in heaven.
2. It is a royal house, a palace. “They shall enter into the king's palace." Christ calls his saints to a kingdom, and their house is suitable to their dignity. It is the house of the kingdom, in which the great King keeps his court, in which he hath placed his throne, and displays his glory in a peculiar manner, beyond what mortals can conceive. No beggar's cottage is so far inferior to the best palace, as it is to the house to which the gracious soul goes at death, though it departs from the poorest cottage.
3. It is a holy house, a temple. “He that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out." The Jews reckon four or five things that were wanting in the second temple. In this nothing shall be wanting. In it they shall have the cloud of glory in the divine presence-Christ, the ark in which the fiery law is for ever hid—the mercy seat, from which nothing breathes but eternal peace—the Cherubim in the society of angels!-the golden candlestick with its seven lamps; "for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." The altar of incense, in the everlasting intercession of Christ,-and the table of shew bread, in the perpetual feast of the enjoyment of God.
If you ask where this house stands ? I answer for the country, it is in a better country, even a heavenly one. Their house is in a better country than the best of this world. It is in the heavenly Canaan, Immanuel's land, in which nothing is wanting to complete
the happiness of the inhabitants. This is the happy country, blessed with a perpetual spring, which yieldeth all things for necessity, conveniency, and delight. There men eat angel's food, “even the hidden manna." They are fed to the full with the product of the land falling into their mouths. That land enjoys an everlasting day, “ for there shall be no night there." An eternal sunshine beautifies it. No cold, no scorching heat.-No clouds, yet no land of drought. It is the country from which Christ came, to which he hath returned, and in which he will for ever dwell.--As for the city, this house stands“ in that great city, the holy Jerusalem.” In that city the inhabitants tread on gold, the very thing on which the men of this world set their hearts; "for the street of the city is of pure gold as it were transparent glass.” A city this, which shall stand and flourish when all the cities below are in ashes. A city that never changeth its inhabitants. Life and immortality reign in it. Blessed with perfect peace, nothing from any quarter can ever annoy it. In it there can be no want of provision, no discord.
If you ask concerning the pleasantness of the situation of this house? I answer it is a palace, and paradise is the palace garden.
To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” said our Lord to the dying thief. Heaven is a paradise for pleasure and delight. Eden was the most pleasant spot of the uncorrupted earth, and paradise was the most pleasant spot of Eden. But what is earth in comparison of heaven. The glorified saints are advanced to the heavenly paradise where they will be satisfied with those purest and sweetest pleasures which Immanuel's land affords, and swim in an ocean of delights for ever. There they shall enjoy every thing in abundance, “On either side of the river stands the tree of life, which bears twelve manner of fruits, and yieldeth her fruit every month.” No flaming sword there to keep them from it.
If you ask concerning the inhabitants of this house? I answer, there dwell “the general assembly of the church of the first born.” The whole congregation of spotless saints, there dwell also the holy angels. There is Christ the Lamb. There shall they be ever with the Lord.
4. It is a Father's house. What a kindly word! It is Christ's Father's house, and therefore no strange house to the gracious soul. “In my Father's house,” says he, “are many mansions, I go to prepare a place for you.” The Father loveth the Son, and the Son hath loved the gracious soul to die for it. Why should the saints then be afraid of their welcome at that house which is their Father's. It is our Father's house. For his Father is our Father. “I ascend, said he, unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” Is not the believing soul espoused to the Son of God? Is not the gracious person begotten of God and adopted of God. So he is their Father and that makes heaven home to them.
5. It is a spacious house. This clay body is a narrow house, where the soul is caged up for a time. But in that house there will be room enough for the soul to expatiate, for it hath many mansions. For as broad as the earth is, many a saint has not a foot of ground in it which he can call his own; yea often there is not room for them at all to remain upon it; but they will all have the most ample accommodation in Immanuel's land.
6. It is a most convenient house. In it no conveniency will be wanting. There are many mansions in it, and every saint shall find his own mansion prepared and furnished with every conveniency for him. They will find every thing that can be desired.
O believer, art thou in poverty and straits? There is an incorruptible treasure in that house. Is thine honour in the dust? A crown for thy head and a sceptre for thy hand await thee there. Art thou shut up in solitude ? There you shall enjoy eternal converse with God, the angels, and the saints. Is your life full of bitterness? You will find rivers of pleasures there. Are you weak and sickly? There grows the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Are you groaning under the tyranny of sin ? There you shall walk in the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Are defiled garments making you hang down your heads? You shall there shine in spotless robes of holiness. Is fighting hard work? In that house ye shall for ever triumph. Are you weary and almost fainting under the labours of the Christian life? There you shall have perpetual rest. Is your communion with God here frequently interrupted? There will be no interruptions there. Are you in darkness? There is no night there. Are you in fear of death? There you shall enjoy eternal life.
7. It is a safe house. The gates are not shut at all by day,” for there is no danger there. Adam in the earthly paradise was not out of danger. The serpent got accession to it. But no unclean thing can enter there. None in the house are placed on the watch. The sentinels are all recalled from their ports, and walk at large without fear of being annoyed, or of falling upon any forbidden fruit.
8. It is a glorious house. The visible heavens, in which the sun, that globe of light, is placed, and that are bespangled with stars, are but the porch of the seat of the blessed. How glorious then must that house be, whose avenues and entries are so splendid and rich. We know very little of this house. But it must needs be a very glorious house. For it is the liouse in which the king's son is